By Adam Centamore.
Beth Basler has been making soup for a long, long time. “I love to cook. I’ve been cooking for decades,” she laughs. It turns out Basler is not the only person who enjoyed the fruits of her labor. Friends developed a taste for her cooking as well. “Everybody seemed to like my soups.”
What started as a way to enjoy her own efforts quickly became a passion she shared with others, especially those in need. “I’ve been making soups for years, and it kinda morphed into bringing them to shut-ins and people in need.” And it’s a practice still happening today.
It was this love of cooking and sharing her soups that inspired Basler to enter BuzzAround’s recent Garden Harvest Recipe Contest.
Through their website and newsletters, BuzzAround encourages communities to celebrate hyper-local good news. “Our garden recipe contest encourages our readers to share a favorite family harvest recipe. This gives our local talented kitchen aficionados a chance to be recognized, win prizes, and be taped preparing their recipe with Food Educator Chef Rosa Galeno. It’s such a unique and yummy contest, it has become a highlight of our year!” exclaims Jacquelyn Rose.
“It’s actually my first time submitting any of my recipes,” Basler sheepishly confesses. For her entry, she chose her roasted tomato-basil bisque. “This particular soup is one of my favorite soups,” she says. The decision paid off in a big way, claiming the top award. “I submitted it to BuzzAround and I was really surprised that I was the winner!”
In addition to having her recipe published here in our fall edition, Basler also enjoyed a filmed preparation of her winning recipe by contest judge Rosa Prezioso-Galeno, internationally known food artisan and owner of Rosa’s Food Shoppe in Easton.
Cooking alongside Chef Rosa, Basler was treated to all sorts of tips and tricks shared throughout the experience. “I know 400° F might sound high for the oven,” the Chef instructs, “It’s the perfect temperature to roast, but not burn, the tomatoes. We want the tomato skin to blister and char, but not disintegrate.” Pointing out that tomatoes are more than 75% water, Chef Rosa confides that using higher heat will cause the flesh to break down and ruin the texture.
When it comes time to roast the carrots, Chef Rosa shares another trick of the trade. “I soak the carrots in water with a little lemon juice and salt overnight. This adds to the flavor and brightens the color.” Overnight soaking also keeps the carrots moist and tender during roasting while allowing caramelization to happen.
Looking around Chef Rosa’s shop, Basler is clearly inspired by her surroundings. “It was a dream of mine to someday have something like this,” she gushes about Rosa’s Food Shoppe. “I chose a different career path in real estate.” Glancing around, she sees a glimpse of her potential future. “Maybe in retirement this is what I’ll do.”
If she keeps winning contests like this, that future might come sooner than she thinks.
Roasted Tomato and Basil Bisque
- 4 lbs. ripe tomatoes cut into quarters. If using large beefsteak tomatoes cut them into eighths. (two 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes can be substituted)
- 6 cloves garlic skins left on
- 2 to 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 carrots peeled, optional soaked overnight in water with a little lemon juice and salt, optional
- 2 yellow onions peeled and chopped
- 4 celery stalks chopped
- 2x 32 oz chicken stock unsalted (vegetable stock can be substituted)
- 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a shallow roasting pan, lay the tomato slices on their sides. Add the garlic cloves to the pan in random places. Generously drizzle everything with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. (This step can be skipped if using canned tomatoes.)
- In another shallow roasting pan, drizzle carrots with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes until tender and browned.
- In a medium stock pot or Dutch oven, pour in just enough olive oil to thinly cover the bottom of the pot. Warm the oil over medium heat, being careful not to allow it to smoke. Add the onions and celery and saute for 15 to 20 minutes, until everything is softened and translucent.
- Next, “everybody in the pot!” as Beth likes to say—add the tomatoes, carrots, and basil. Pour in half of the stock and stir. Simmer over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until all the ingredients are warmed. Use an immersion blender in the soup and puree all ingredients to your desired chunkiness. (If a chunkier soup is preferred, puree for less time to leave larger pieces intact.)
- Add remaining stock in one cup increments to achieve your desired soup consistency and simmer for 20 minutes over medium-low heat to allow the flavors to meld together. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve hot.
- Serves 8 generously.
83 Eastman Street
South Easton, MA 02375
Beth suggests enjoying this with freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, fresh basil cut into chiffonade (thin ribbons), and croutons. Chef Rosa served her version with focaccia bread. As you can see in our photo, we enjoyed a chunky version of this delicious soup.
Consider submitting your own recipe between mid-October and mid-November. Details here.
Adam Centamore is a culinary writer and educator who lives on the South Shore. As a three-time grilled cheese champion and winner of both chili and lasagna bake-off contests, he fully appreciates what it takes to have the “eye of the tiger” in culinary competitions. He can be reached at www.eatdrinklearn.com, or through his Instagram account, @eatdrinklearn.