Gin and Tomato SoupThe very first time I prepared this soup was for my friend Chef Pierre Dubruille. He had hired me to teach in his school, so I invited him and some friends to dinner. Being young and new to teaching, I was extremely nervous about cooking for the well-known chef. As the evening progressed the wine flowed, my nerves calmed, and consequently I didn't pay attention to the temperature of the soup when I added the cream. Disaster struck on the first course. The soup curdled and I died! What to do? With no back up, I turned the lights out, candles only and prayed that no one would notice the overkill of garnish hiding the curdles of cream. Because a curdle of cream does not alter the taste of the soup, I served it to rave reviews, never fessing up to what went wrong. The moral of the story? Never apologize for what you serve your guest. How it turns out is the way you wanted it! Well, except for curdled soup!
8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 cups vegetable or beef stock
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
4 pancetta strips, diced and fried crisp
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups table cream
1/3 cup gin
to taste sea salt
to taste fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp piri piri sauce (such as Nando's, available at GW)
Puree the tomatoes, stock, garlic cloves and thyme using a Cuisinart. Place in saucepan and bring to a boil. Combine the pancetta and sour cream, setting aside for garnish. Add the table cream to the soup base but make sure the soup is not too hot or the cream will curdle. Add the gin and the seasonings, ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with the bacon mixture and a dash of piri piri sauce.