L.A. folks! Look at the mercury creeping up in your thermometers. Your air conditioning is probably blasting, and perhaps you even ate some ice cream today. Well, let’s throw your entire life out of wack and talk about soup. It’s the fall, and no matter how much you are fighting it, October is here. It’s funny how sometimes this blog is full of inconsistencies, such as blueberries in autumn and soup on Indian summer days that peak at 90 degrees. No matter, here’s a tale about soup–a tale that involves Bertolli and beets. You are no doubt wondering how those two are connected. Let’s try to connect the dots. Grab a spoon, and come along for the ride.
On Tuesday evening, Bertolli hosted a launch event at Fabio Viviani’s Toluca Lake restaurant, Firenze Osteria. You may recognize Chef Viviani’s name from his appearance on season five of Bravo’s Top Chef and his endorsement of Bertolli’s products. The evening’s unveiling featured Bertolli’s new line of meal soups. Each package is enough for two, and they do boast the ability to qualify as a meal. Each soup is full of flash frozen vegetables, chunks of meat and filling pastas that leave no void in the belly. Pair them with bread and wine, of course, and the meal is complete. We have been very lucky to continuously experience the ways in which Bertolli’s products use high quality ingredients and harken back to traditional Italian flavors, and on this evening, they would do that once again with a tasting of all four soup varieties.
Chef Viviani and Chef Michael Christiansen, Bertolli’s Innovation Chef, stood before the crowd of food bloggers and writers to share a few words about the background of the new frozen products. Before us was a large wooden board full of the ingredients that go into their soups–roasted chicken, whole mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, squash, beans, pastas, and herbs. Their key reason for the prime flavor of each soup that every element from the choice of vegetables and brewing of the broth to the addition of herbs in the last seconds create hearty and distinctive layers of flavors. Taking the time to bring out these layers also contributes to the fact that the soups are not laden with sodium, which is typically added in large quantities to frozen or canned products as a taste booster.
Chef Viviani and Chef Christiansen took turns chatting about the soups and answering our questions as a batch boiled away before our eyes. Here’s how easy it is: Open the bag. Pour the contents into a pot. Add one cup of water. Cook for less than 10 minutes. Soup’s ready! Slice the bread, pop open a bottle of vino, and every camper is happy. If you want a Duo secret, use half water and half broth or swap out the water entirely to kick it up a notch. Following the demo, we all made the rounds and sampled each soup, which were each well paired with bread and wine of course:
-Chicken and Rotini Pasta with Foccacia and Pinot Grigio
-Tomato Florentine with Ciabatta and Merlot
-Chicken Minestrone with Toscano and Chianti
-Tuscan Beef and Vegetables with Semolina Loaf and Sangiovese
Everyone slipped around the room with soup bowls, spoons and wine before settling at a table to give each one a taste. The top winner of the night may have been Tomato Florentine. The tomato bisque base of the soup creates a smooth, creamy, tangy base with just a slight bit of sweetness. Spinach, tomatoes, white meat chicken and cheese tortellini swim amongst the broth and leave you wanting more once the bowl is empty. The second runner up may have been Tuscan Beef and Vegetables. There’s something about the aromatic mushroom broth that makes you think of a cold nights, blankets and a hearty dinner. It’s full of beef, mushrooms, squash, carrots and zucchini, as well as bowtie pasta. Chicken and Rotini Pasta and Chicken Minestrone are also both very satisfying. The red kidney beans in the latter add an extra punch of fibrous, protein-packed filler. We all left the event with a Bertolli reusable freezer bag, samples of the meal soups, a heavy silver soup ladle and tasting certificates to try even more soup. Once again, we have to give a big thanks to Bertolli for the entire experience!
Eating so much soup on a warm fall evening inspired a desire to whip up something at home. Remember that mention of beets? Here’s where they come into play. With their beautiful color, sweet taste and velvety texture, blended beets really do work well in soup formation. The best part is that they are as great cold as they are hot. Forget about borscht. This is the beet soup you need in your life. Make sure you save the beet greens! They make the perfect garnish when blended with sour cream and horseradish, then daintily plopped or spooned with a heavy hand right on top of the dish. Swirl it all together for a creamy beet soup that works on a hot or cold day.
Now it’s giveaway time! Bertolli wants you to join in the soup fun and try their new line of meal soups. You could win tasting certificates to grab samples at your local market, a heavy silver soup ladle, a beautiful white bread basket and a reusable freezer bag. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm PST on Wednesday, October 19th. The winner will be announced on Thursday, October 20th. You must live in the contiguous United States to win. It’s so easy. Here’s how:
1. Leave a comment about the Bertolli Premium Meal Soup that appeals to you the most.
2. Follow @TheDuoDishes on Twitter.
3. Like The Duo Dishes on Facebook.
4. Tweet “Win the @Bertolli Meal Soups #giveaway from @TheDuoDishes http://wp.me/pWonA-3dY”.
5. Follow @Bertolli on Twitter.
6. Like Bertolli on Facebook.
Leave a comment on this post for each of your entry methods. Don’t forget to include your email or a method of contact should you be the winner. Good luck!
Roasted Beet Soup with Beet Greens Horseradish Cream – Serves 4 to 6
2 shallots, peeled but left whole
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled and left whole
3 medium beets, whole (greens reserved)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Wrap the shallots, garlic and beets individually in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and slide into a preheated oven at 400 degrees. Roast for 25 minutes, remove the garlic, then continue roasting the beets and shallots for another 20 minutes. Remove the shallots and finish cooking the beets another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 20-30 minutes.
2. Once the beets cool, peel and dice them. Pop the roasted garlic out of its skin and roughly chop. Trim the tops and bottoms of the shallots and roughly chop them as well. Set everything aside.
3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Once melted, add the diced carrots and celery and cook for 15-20 minutes until softened. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until soft.
4. Scoop the diced beets, garlic and shallots into a blender. Then carefully spoon out the cooked carrots and celery with a slotted spoon and add them to the vegetables in the blender. Ladle half of the broth in as well, then blend until smooth. Add the rest of the broth and blend again. Pour the soup back into the pot to warm, if necessary, season with kosher salt, then serve.
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Beetroot greens, stems removed (approximately 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice and zest of 1/3 lemon
1/4 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Heat the olive oil in a small pan over a medium flame. Add the olive oil, and when warm, toss the beetroot leaves into the pan. Stir lightly and cook until softened, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
2. Place the cooled, cooked beetroot greens into a food processor with the sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and horseradish. Blend until smooth, then season with the kosher salt. Dollop on top of the soup before serving.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.
Bertolli provided samples of their product for review. The opinions expressed here are our own.