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Bistro Jeanty’s Cream of Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry

July 1, 2009
Yum!

Yum!

I’m not sure if you had the good fortune to dine at Jeanty at Jack’s in San Francisco’s Financial District before it’s unfortunate closure this May. This restaurant was an offshoot of the still open and still delicious Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. It offered bistro food with upscale French flare.

The tomato soup in particular was fabulous! Painstakingly well crafted tomato soup from the finest ingredients, rich and vibrant in flavor and shrouded in a light and flaky puff pastry crust. The first time I had it I never knew it could taste this good, food that is. Something so simple and mundane as tomato soup elevated so high. Do you remember eating your Campbell’s tomato soup when you were a kid and dipping the corner of your grilled cheese sandwich in to it? Yum! Yep. Kind of like that.

I could just go there and get a few drinks at the bar and then order the tomato soup…delicious!

Well, now that is no longer an option. And driving all the way to Yountville to get it is just too inconvenient. But, I’m sure Chef and owner Philippe Jeanty knew that all the regulars to his now closed restaurant would yearn for that tomato soup. So he posted the recipe in PDF form up on his site.

I just made this for a few friends and it was definitely a hit. I bought all the best stuff I could find at the new Berkeley Bowl West. I wanted to replicate as close as possible the wonderful flavor that the soup has. I’m not going to lie, I had a few snafus to work through during the cooking process. The first problem was that I added the tomatoes whole to the onion, spices and tomato paste mixture. You see, I was supposed to core and quarter them first! So now they are all in there, all 3 1/2 lbs of them, with the tomato paste goo stuck to them and not cored or quartered like they are supposed to be. I had to reach in to the pot, scrape off all the gooey stuff that had stuck to the tomatoes, cut them up and re-add them to the cooking mixture. Then I forgot to read the recipe thoroughly again and after I had blended everything with my immersion blender I proceeded to add the heavy cream. I was supposed to strain the tomato mixture first and then add the cream. Well I only added a little of the cream so all was not lost. But it did make passing it through my chinoise a little harder. Plus I don’t have one of those wood thingies that you’re supposed to use to press the pulp in to the chinoise, but whatever. It worked. It tasted good.

There are a few things that I would change for the next time though. The first is that I bought the Italian tomato paste which is not as thick or as concentrated as the ones from Del Monte or Contadina. So I would double the amount at least if you use that kind. Secondly, baking the puff pastry on top of the soup bowl has a certain degree of panache and is quite impressive to your guest, however you lose some puff pastry that sticks to the sides. And I am all about maximizing the amount of food that can be eaten. My fix is to cut the puff pastry in to 3 x 3 in squares, do the same egg wash to it and bake at 400 deg for 10-15 minutes instead. That way you can dip the squares in to the soup and people who don’t want a lot of pastry can leave it for you to devour!

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