Thursday, January 19, 2017

Manchego Tomato Soup and a National Soup Day Contest

It's soup weather. Gone is the "honeymoon stage" of winter, with it's hearty roasts and casseroles, topped off with turkey and stuffing. Now, there's hardly a speck of snow on he ground (not complaining though!), but the freezing temperatures have been replaced by chilly, grey drizzle that demands to be answered with comforting meals. Soup is the perfect food for times like this, being filling and soul-warming but not weighty, welcoming a side of bread or a salad without inviting overindulgence-guilt along for the ride. While the resolutions made for January 1 may be long gone by now, the heaviness of the holidays is (at least around here) still making itself known!

This meatless, spice-laden puree is, I like to think, a taste of summer. I had a bag of heirloom tomatoes from the summer harvest in the freezer and a pot of rosemary on the counter, roasted garlic in the fridge and local honey in the pantry. To thicken the mixture and add some filling carbohydrates and protein, I tossed in split peas and potatoes, both of which also carried the piquancy of the hot smoked paprika and the touch of astringency from the wine without allowing either to overpower the flavours. The pièce de résistance, though, was the final addition: a handful of shredded Manchego cheese, given to us at Christmastime from a relative. Manchego is a sheep-milk cheese that is flavourful but not overbearing, and melts like butter when exposed to heat. I knew it made great grilled cheese sandwiches (a chance discovery in university after wandering the local markets), and since grilled cheese goes with tomato soup, why not cut out the middleman?

Manchego Tomato Soup

The melted cheese, potato and split peas make the soup rich and creamy without the need for any additional dairy or thickeners, and the potage freezes exceptionally well as a result - cream and yogurt-based soups tend to curdle and split upon freezing. I highly recommend using Spanish hot smoked paprika and a Spanish white wine (I used this one), but if you can only find Hungarian or unlabeled smoked paprika use that, and any crisp, dry white will do.

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Do you love soup as much as we do? Read on to find out about a killer contest just in time for National Soup Day!

Manchego Tomato Soup
Serves 6
1 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
1 head roasted garlic
1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika
1/4 cup tomato paste (I used double concentrated)
1/4 cup dry white wine
2.2 lbs (1 kg) fresh or flash-frozen tomatoes, chopped
6 cups water
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp honey
1 medium russet potato, finely grated
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2.5 oz Manchego cheese**
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, heat the oil.
  2. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until golden - about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the roasted garlic and cook 1 minute.
  4. Sprinkle with paprika and cook 30 seconds, then add tomato paste and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pot, then add tomatoes, water, salt, rosemary and honey.
  6. Cover and cook 15 minutes, until tomatoes begin to break down.
  7. Stir in the potato and split peas, re-cover and cook 45 minutes, until split peas are completely soft.
  8. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches with a regular blender) puree until smooth.
  9. Return to medium-low heat and add the cheese, stirring until everything is incorporated and cheese melts.

**If you can't find Manchego, use a medium to old Cheddar or a gouda for a different, but still delicious flavour.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 171.9
Total Fat: 5.8 g
Cholesterol: 7.0 mg
Sodium: 203.0 mg
Total Carbs: 23.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.7 g
Protein: 7.7 g
National Soup Day Contest:
The chill of midwinter always revives the tried and true soup recipes that we keep stashed away for “those days” that feel just right. Days that welcome memories of running inside after a long day of jumping in snow piles and being greeted with the silkiness of creamy tomato or gobbling down bowls of chicken noodle. Being the comfort food that it is, soup is so deeply personal and tells a story in a way that no sandwich or salad ever could.

Chef and fourth-generation restaurant owner, Christopher Czarnecki, has many fond memories of soup recipes handed down from grandfather to father to son. To celebrate these honored family traditions, Chef Christopher and the Joel Palmer House restaurant are sponsoring a soup contest throughout January (which is National Soup Month) and in honor of National Soup Day on February 4th. Chef Christopher and his team will be collecting soup recipes and the memories that make them special until January 31st. The winner will be announced on Feb. 4 to celebrate National Soup Day. The winner of the competition will have their recipe featured on the Joel Palmer House’s menu for a week in February and also enjoy a one-on-one Cooking and Q&A session with Chef Christopher Czarnecki to gain tips and tricks about cooking and creating that fine dining experience at home.

National Soup Day Contest - Win A Free Private Cooking Lesson & Have Your Soup Recipe On The Menu

Send your favorite soup memory and recipe to by 1/31/17 to enter!

More information about The Joel Palmer House and their menu can be found at

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