Roasted Tomato Soup

Soup Club has been something the junior school (Year 1 to 4) at my workplace came up with in the last few weeks of last semester. The teachers of each year level will cook lunch for all the teachers of the junior school on one of the days in that week, and we rotate weekly. Absolutely loving the whole idea! Been trying all kinds of different soups and every one that I had was yummy! Sometimes, the teachers ventured out of soups, and got creative! We even had chilli con carne and curry lentils! Really well fed at my work place. haha

I was part of the year 1 team, and on our first rotation, I made cream of mushroom soup! So glad they all enjoyed it. Always get very nervous cooking for a bigger group of people. Plus I always cook too much! haha The mr and I would end up having soup for the next few days. Whoops! But more is better than less ya? hehe So it was the Year 1s turn again yesterday, and I decided to try something new. Brave, I know! haha I flipped through my recipe books and one of the soup recipes from the Delicious: Simply the best cook book, which I scored at Aldi for $12! hehe

The part that really caught my eye is the addition of asian flavours to this soup. It’s no ordinary roasted tomato soup, the addition of coconut milk, fish sauce, ginger and coriander makes it almost like drinking a less spicy and creamier version of the laksa gravy! Mmmm. AMAZING!

As much as I love the asian influence in this recipe, I have to admit I was a little worried as to how my colleagues will react to the taste. But thankfully, it turned out well and everyone was asking for the recipe! Yay! (: Totally made my day! Oh yes, and did I tell you I’ve never seen and cooked with that many tomatoes in my life because I doubled the recipe below. haha

Roasted Tomato Soup (Adapted from Delicious: Simply the best)

1.5kg tomatoes, quartered (any type you like)

2 onions, quartered

2 capsicum, thickly sliced

Salt & pepper, to season

3 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup olive oil

3 garlic cloves

2 tsp finely grated ginger

400ml coconut milk

700ml vegetable stock

1 tbs tomato paste

1 small bunch of coriander, leaves and steam finely chopped (extra to serve)

1 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs fish sauce

Natural Greek yogurt (to serve)

Steps :

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a baking tray with foil. Place the tomatoes, capsicums and onions on the baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and dried basil. Roast for 1 1/2 hours or until the vegetables are very soft and lightly charred.

2) Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the garlic and ginger until fragrant (1-2 mins), do be careful not to burn the garlic as it will have a bitter after taste.

3) Add the tomato paste, coconut milk and stock and simmer for 10 mins. Add the sugar, fish sauce, chopped coriander and the roasted tomato, capsicum and onion, plus any of the cooking juices in the baking tray. Simmer for a further 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly.

4) Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend, in batches, until smooth. Serve the soup, garnished with coriander leaves and a dollop of yogurt. Serve with bread or roti.

Enjoy!

PS : This is one soup that is not too heavy but full of flavour! Perfect for a cold winter night! Do give it a try and let me know what you think! (: So dear readers, what is your favourite kind of soup? Would love to know!

Hare & Grace

It was a lunch that was planned a couple of weeks in advance so you can imagine how excited I was as the day drew nearer. I’ve been hearing lots of good feedback and seeing heaps of yummy food pictures of Hare & Grace and I was really looking forward to trying what they had to offer. PLUS! I was going to meet with Jan @ Peach Water for the first time. So it was definitely double the excitement for me! (:

Hare & Grace

Address : 525 Collins Street, Melbourne Vic 3000

Tel : 03 9629 6755

Website : http://hareandgrace.com/

Opening hours : Mondays – Fridays

Lunch – 12 to 3pm

Dinner – 6pm till late

We were one of the first customers that afternoon, and when I walked through the glass doors, I was greeted by really friendly staffs. Jan arrived a little earlier than I did, and the dining area wasn’t ready for customers yet (the wait staffs were still being briefed). So they sat her at a table near the fire place. Perfect for that cold, rainy afternoon!

Shortly after I arrived, we were led into, what I can describe as, a forest-like dining area; an enchanted forest! There were branches hanging down from the ceiling and I was going ooh and ahh as the wait staff brought as to our table. She very kindly explained to us the different parts of the menu and gave us time to decide what we wanted.

We opted for the 3 course lunch set menu and decided that we were going to try one of each of the courses. This way, we were able to try everything they had to offer! (: Their lunch sets had the option of 2 or 3 courses ($42/$55), and it came with a complimentary glass of house white/red.

Jan had the house white – chardonnay and I had the house red – cabernet sauvignon.

We started our amazing food journey with freshly baked bread, a beautifully cornelled butter and a side of sea salt. I can still remember how impressed we both were when they placed the stone with the butter sitting proudly on top in the middle. I think I’ve never taken so many photos of butter before. haha.

The bread was served in a bird’s nest bowl. Really making me feel like I was dining in an enchanted forest! hehe

Composites (Entree)

Our entrees arrived and we asked the wait staff to place them in the middle as we were just going to share everything. How pretty is this beetroot, mint, pomegranate and goat’s cheese salad? It’s like an edible garden! So so pretty! I have to admit, when I saw it on the menu, I was quite reluctant to order it, cause I never really had beet root on it’s on before. Usually I have it in my juice back home. But had to trust the chefs and give it a go.

So glad I did! The chopped mint made the salad refreshing, and it had different textures! The pomegranate gave the dish a crunch and the goat’s cheese gave the dish the creaminess and cuts the acidity of the beets. It was definitely one of our favourite dishes of the day. hehe

The other entree we had was the eggplant, with sweet & sour cured salmon, cracked wheat and labne. It was my first time having cracked wheat actually. It tasted like couscous, just a little crunchier. The cured salmon was very flavourful and absolutely love that the dish had different textures! Just makes it more exciting when eating it. hehe After the composites, I just couldn’t wait to have our mains!

Principals (Mains)

When we saw mushroom risotto on the menu, we knew we wanted to have it because the night before, the Masterchef contestants were in Italy and they had the risotto challenge. Jan and I were chatting and imagining how flat our risotto will be! haha that was definitely emphasised when the contestants were making their risottos. Alas! It arrived and it sure was flat and the smell of the mushrooms was just heavenly! Every single mouthful was just mmmmm! We could taste every single grain and it was al dente and coated with mushroomy-goodness! We couldn’t stop singing praises about it!

When we told the wait staff about how flat the risotto had to be cause of what we saw on Masterchef, she asked if it was George who said it, as she use to work for him and she told us that he use to always say that! hehe Hilarious! I was quite entertained by that fact. hehe

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the braised beef cheeks with the most amazing mash EVER. Thick, creamy, buttery and luscious! I could have that all day! The beef cheeks were marinated in red wine for 26 hours before being slow braised for 5-6 hours. So you can imagine how it just falls apart with the touch of our forks/knives! The meat was oh-so-tender and just melts in your mouth! AMAZING!!

Sweet, Guilty, Vanity (Desserts)

Of course. There will always be space for desserts (in fact, some may argue we have a separate stomach for sweets hehe). We were pretty full by the time the mains were done, but we couldn’t not have desserts to end the meal (and meet up) on a sweet note! The kitchen had some difficulty with the blow torch, so there was a bit of a delay. But the friendly staff came by our table, twice, to apologise and update us on how long more it would take. We were very very impressed by their sincerity and professionalism!

Let me tell you, the chocolate bar was well-worth the wait! It was such a decadent dessert which a thick, chocolatey mousse (78%) accompanied by some chocolate soil, a Pedro Ximenez (port wine) jelly and spiced milk sorbet! The chocolate bar had just the right  level of sweetness and when eaten together with all the components, it was very well-balanced! Definitely not too rich, though it sure looks like it! hehe If you’re a fan of chocolate, this is a MUST HAVE!

When the vanilla creme brulee arrived at our table, it reminded me of the one I had in Paris many years back. The first thing I did was to take my spoon and crack the toffee layer at the top. Nothing more satisfying than hearing that crack when the spoon hits the hard surface, and a wide smile followed (: The custard was smooth and you could definitely see the vanilla seeds but was a tad too sweet for me. It helped having it with the biscotti though! hehe kinda mellowed the sweetness as it had the spiciness of ginger.

Hare & Grace has definitely lived up to our expectations and even more! Lovely and friendly wait staff, delicious food with awesome company (thanks Jan!) made the whole experience very memorable! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I brought the Mr back for lunch a few days later and he really loved it as well!

So do give H&G a try when you’re around the city, and do remember to call them up to book in advance. Do note that they are only open on weekdays for lunch and dinner! (:

 Stay tuned for the post on Peach Water this weekend and have a read of her review of the place and her beautiful photos!

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