Soups of San Diego – A Summery Cream Satisfaction Indeed

Last week I had the great liberty to visit beautiful San Diego. My trip was originally for business to attend a conference on tag management software for analytics, but I was able to combine it with a few days of pleasure time.

Coming from rainy Vancouver, I was very impressed with the sunshine and shorts weather for my first two days. I had a cute tour guide visiting with me and we had a wonderful time bike riding around Coronado Island and downtown San Diego. During the week, I experienced some mighty fine restaurants and pubs.

With the mild weather and great soups, it was very much a summery cream satisfaction for myself. The following are my three favorite soups that I had dining out during my week stay in San Diego.

Kelvin Restaurant at W Hotel
http://www.kelvinrestaurant.com
421 West B. Street, San Diego, CA

I had their Rustic Poblano Corn Soup with spiked popcorn:

The Verdict of Kelvin Restaurant Rustic Poblano Corn Soup:
On my last night I decided to have a quiet dinner at my hotel (W Hotel). This restaurant is petit but very modern and nice. I wanted to have a light dinner so I ordered the Rustic Poblano Corn Soup with the Duck Confit Quesidillas. Both paired well together. But I ended up with a not so light dinner – I was super stuffed after eating it all.

The soup seemed to have fresh kernels within the pureed base, which I thought was a classy touch. They were not mushy what-so-ever liked canned corn. I LOVED the use of tiny chopped chives (my favorite soup topper) as well as a tasty swirl of chile infused oil. The oil added a really fine touch of heat.

And the spiked corn as a garnish – oh my! It sure prettied up the soup! First ever experience of popcorn as a garnish for myself.

My waitress shared that the soup had cream, vegetable stock and rice flour.  I am sure that it had a lot of cream too. It had a very good tasting base but a tad heavy on the cream side. I also think it didn’t really need the rice flour because it was to thick for my liking (almost like risotto thick).

The taste of the soup rocked, but does not get high marks for a slimming soup from me.

Oh well, I enjoyed it but back on the treadmill I go!

Soup Mistress Rating For Kelvin Restaurant Rustic Corn Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (2.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5)

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
http://www.cohnrestaurants.com/menu-restaurants/blue-point/
565 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA

I had their famous Lobster Bisque with sherry and creme fraiche (gluten-free):

The Verdict of Blue Point Coastal Cuisine Lobster Bisque:

What a special treat, I went to this restaurant twice in one week! The first time was pleasure and the second time, Tealium Software treated our team at Electronic Arts to dinner. I also had a great opportunity to sit besides Jim Sterne – one of the biggest Analytics evangelist and great eMetrics conference host and speaker. Was fun to talk analytics with him.

A few of us at the table ordered the Lobster Bisque. This soup was super rich and very tasty. The soup was perfect for my appetite because I only ordered crab cakes with it.  Jim, on the other hand couldn’t finish it because he thought it was too rich and filling – he was also waiting for his main entre. Perhaps Blue Point should offer a cup of bisque for those who may be like Jim and not want a big bowl?

The pieces of lobster in my bisque was meaty and juicy at same time. Perhaps it marinated in the soup a tad -sometime I find lobster to tough. I didn’t pick up on the Sherry in the soup – perhaps it dissipated? The seasoning was just perfect but the bisque could have used triple the amount of chives.

I would order this bisque again but perhaps replace the crab cakes with some more fresh oysters, which by the way, comes from beautiful British Columbia (my home province)!

Soup Mistress Rating For Blue Point Coastal Cuisine Lobster Bisque:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (2.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5)

Mimmo’s Italian Village
http://www.mimmos.biz
1743 India St, San Diego, CA., San Diego, CA

I had the their soup of the day which was a Tomato Basil Soup:

The Verdict of Mimo’s Tomato Basil Soup:

The last day, I had fun hanging out with two other co-workers (Nataliya and Robert). We took a tour on the USS Midway ship and then we ventured to Little Italy for our last meal before heading to the airport.

Mimo’s grabbed our attention and both Robert and I ordered the Tomato Basil soup. I really enjoyed it – I have tried many tomato basil soups and this one makes one of the top 5 I had to date.. It was simple yet tasty like it should be. I lapped up the bowl of soup with some very fresh bread slices. And the freshly grated parmesan is a must at any Italian restaurant don’t you think?

Thumbs up for taste as well as a slimming soup from both Robert and myself!

Soup Mistress Rating For Mimo’s Tomato Basil Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5)

Yum Factor With Tomato Basil Organic Soup

tomato-organic-soup-1

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The Completed Tomato Basil Organic Soup

A while ago, Noel Pullen (@noelpullen) (another soup-a-holic like myself) shared Jamie Oliver’s Tomato Soup recipe with me along with his own modifications. I’ve been meaning to make this soup with Noel’s recommendations for quite some time. Noel made the soup a tad thicker (doubling the veggies and not the water/stock) and gave it some zing by adding peppercorns and increasing the amount of basil.

The Verdict? I purchased the same canned tomatoes and vegetable stock cubes that Noel used at Donalds Market (at the Westminster Quay). The canned plum tomatoes are really great and have a thick tomato base, which I think is what gives this soup a very yummy taste. These canned tomatoes don’t seem to be as watered down as other brands – I would buy them again. The extra basil and peppercorns really added some nice depth to the soup for sure. Two thumbs up for this soup and it’s modifications. I feel really healthy eating this soup because I used all organic vegetables! Yum factor indeed.

Ingredients for Plum Tomato Basil Organic Soup:
(Serves 10 – 12,  this is a big batch of soup – great to freeze as well)

  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes, preferably organic
  • 1.5 liters of boiling water
  • 2x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 20 large fresh basil leaves
  • sea salt
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated

Cooking Instructions for Plum Tomato Basil Organic Soup:

  1. Heat olive oil in large heavy pan (or pot) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery, garlic, onion and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with the lid slightly on until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.
  3. Bring 1.5 liters of water to a boil and turn off. Stir in stock cubes until dissolved.
  4. Add stock to the pot with vegetables, as well as the canned and fresh whole tomatoes. Stir.
  5. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat. Season with salt and peppercorns and add the basil leaves.
  7. Using a hand blender or regular blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  8. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls. Garnish with grated parmesan and a few small basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Original recipe here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/soup-recipes/tomato-soup-updated

What was changed from Jamie Oliver’s Tomato Soup recipe:

  • increased to 20 big basil leaves
  • added 10 black peppercorns
  • doubled all the vegetables and not the liquid
  • added parmesan as a garnish (this was my modification)
  • used all organic vegetables

Soup Mistress Rating for Plum Tomato Basil Organic Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

How to Make Herb Oils And My Favorites With Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower soup with 5 herb oil

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Cauliflower soup with 5 mix herb oil (dill, chive, oregano, basil, parsley) with crispy prosciutto.

Last night, I made a big batch of cauliflower soup (one of my favorites soups) and I was feeling a bit creative and curious to what herb oils would taste best drizzled on top. I decided to make chive oil (it’s pretty popular in many recipes) and follow the exact same process with other fresh herbs I had on hand. In the end, I had the following 8 different herbs oils to try with my cauliflower soup:

  1. Chive oil
  2. Dill oil
  3. Parsley oil
  4. Oregano oil
  5. Sweet Basil oil
  6. Rosemary oil
  7. Cilantro oil
  8. Mixed herb oil: chive, dill, parsley, oregano, sweet basil

Cauliflower soup with herb oilOh my, what did I get myself into?!
I was not sure if I had a big enough appetite to try 8 bowls of soups, so I decided to use espresso cups (8 mini soups) with a different oil in each. The winner was then allowed to bathe in a large bowl of soup in the end after my taste test!

The verdict with herb oils and my cauliflower soup? All of the herb oils looked pretty much the same (green), so I had no preference over another for the look. But my favorite tasting herb oils with my cauliflower soup (ranked from most favorite to least) were: basil, the mix of 5, chive, dill, oregano, and then parsley. I was not a huge fan of the cilantro oil nor the rosemary oil – they were both too overpowering. If I was to use the cilantro or rosemary oil in anything, I would use less drops or maybe add more oil to dilute them a tad.

Sky is the limit: These oils would be great to garnish and enhance so many other soups. Some that I can think of are: parsnip soup (chive, dill, basil or oregano oil), potato soup (chive oil), borscht (dill oil), white bean soup (chive, dill, mix oil) and tomato soups (basil, oregano or parsley oil).

Not just for soups: Herb oils are also great drizzled on fish, scrambled eggs, potatoes, steamed vegetables, pasta and salads (for salad dressing, I would add a tad of balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.) I actually had the basil oil in my egg white scramble this morning with a slice of prosciutto and goat cheddar.

Ingredients for Herb Oil:

  • 1 small bunch chives (or dill, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • dash freshly ground pepper

Instructions for Herb Oil:

  1. Bring small pot to a boil.
  2. Plunge herbs in boiling water with prongs, for about 10 seconds.
  3. Shock them in cold ice bath with prongs.
  4. Drain, wrap the herbs in a paper towel, and squeeze all of the moisture out.
  5. Cut herbs in half. (If rosemary take the herb off of the sprigs – they are too woody)
  6. Put herbs in a blender/small processor.
  7. With machine running, add oil in a slow stream; puree for about 2 minutes.
  8. Let stand at least 1 hour in fridge.
  9. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing against any solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much oil as possible.
  10. Discard solids.
  11. Add to plastic squeeze bottle.
  12. Drizzle a pretty or cool design on top of your soup.
  13. Refrigerate left over herb oil. I try to use it up within 2-3 days tops, bring it to room temperature before using.

Do you have favorite herb oils that go well with certain soup recipes? Feel free to share below!

Pea Basil Wonton Soup With Pancetta

Pea Basil Wonton Soup

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The completed pea basil wonton soup with pancetta.

When I was a child, I really hated peas. On many occasions, after asking my mother to be excused from the table to go out and play, she had to inspect under my plate to make sure I didn’t have peas hiding under the edges. She caught me in the act many times and made me sit there until I finished them. I thought I had a tough life back then. *Sigh*

Something weird happen over the years though – I have a new love for peas. I still don’t like peas alone by themselves, but I do like adding peas to something like a soup.

I have been doing a lot of puree soups (which I really love btw), but decided that I have to try some different techniques in the soup making department. I always wanted to try wonton wrappers…so pea basil wonton soup it is.

This recipe is totally made up…I didn’t feel like following a recipe for this one.

The verdict? I love working with wonton warppers and think I am going to try more recipes with them in future!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pancetta, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 1-1/4 cup of peas (fresh or frozen thawed)
  • 1/4 basil, chopped
  • dash of pepper
  • 16 wonton wrappers
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (keep 1/4 cup for garnish)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Cook pancetta for 2 minutes on med-high heat, then put aside on a dish.
  2. Using the same pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and saute the shallot and garlic until soft, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add shallots, garlic, peas, 1/4 cup parmesan, basil and pepper to food processor or blender and blend until rough pure.
  4. In another pan, bring vegetable broth to boil, add pancetta, then simmer on low.
  5. Start to bring another pot of water to a boil.
  6. Place sixteen wonton wrappers on a board and distribute the pea filling in the center of each.
  7. Spray each wonton with a mist of water. (This is a quick tip that I learnt from Jamie Oliver’s show on the Food Network versus wetting each one down with a brush of water.)
  8. Press each wonton together on all edges. Place a damp clean cloth on top of them to keep moist so they don’t dry out if waiting for water to boil.
  9. In batches of 4 or 6, drop wontons into soft boiling water for about 2 minutes (or until floating to top of water).
  10. Place four wontons in each bowl. Top with vegetable broth and garnish with parmesan and a few peas.

Soup Mistress Rating for Pea Basil Wonton Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5) 
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

 

Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup For Lazy People Like Me

Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup

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The completed Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup

Yesterday, I was working at home all day on the computer and was planning to go grocery shopping, but I lost my steam by end of day and decided not to go.

My fridge was looking very bleak for dinner ideas, and there’s no way I was going to resort to ordering in. But I had 7 tomatoes, bunch of basil, bunch of parsley, cream (left over from Thanksgiving – not normally in my fridge) and some shrimp in the freezer. Soup was a gimme for me.

You can take a guess that I was feeling a little lazy. I decided to make this soup without following any recipe and didn’t do anything special to seed, roast or peel the tomatoes (like some recipes call for). I just chopped the tomatoes as is and threw them in the pan.

This soup only took 30 minutes from prep to filling up my stomach.  And by golly, I think I will make this soup again in future. It was so yummy and I have left overs today for lunch!

I have plans to redo many soups in the future and I will be:

  • cutting calories and trimming fat from some favorite recipes
  • adjusting so they are vegetarian, gluten-free as well as vegan – where I can
  • adjusting dried herbs for fresh herbs
  • adjusting processed foods for natural and/or organic – where I can
  • adjusting highly acidic forming recipes to be more alkaline forming (healthier for you)

This soup makeover is:

  • gluten-free

Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup Ingredients:

  • 14 shrimp (26/30 count size)
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 7 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3/4 cup basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup cream (note: I’m only using a small amount of cream, some recipes usually call for way more)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small pan, cook shrimp until opaque (don’t overcook) and put aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in heavy pot over moderate. Add onions and garlic, sauté until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer at med-low for about 15 minutes until tomatoes are soft.
  4. Working in batches, purée soup in blender with lime juice, parsley and basil until very smooth (about 30 seconds), then return to pot.
  5. Return soup to pot, stir in cream and gently heat through.
  6. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with shrimp and a basil leaf as garnish. Serve immediately.

Soup Mistress Rating for Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5) 
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5)