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Cooking with Spirits

Cooking with Spirits
Vodka White Bean & Roast Garlic Soup

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
1 1/2 cups dried or canned white beans (haricot or navy)
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 very large firm red tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices bacon
20 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup white onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Vodka Chicken Broth (see recipe below) or stock
1 tablespoon Basil Vodka (see recipe below) or 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
1/2 cup vodka
4 tablespoons cream
1. Soak the dried beans in cold water for 8-10 hours. Drain and rinse. If using canned beans, drain and rinse before cooking.

2. Place the beans in a medium pot with enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Add the bay leaf and thyme and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper. Strain, remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme, and set aside.

3. Carefully cut off the tops of the tomatoes and hollow out to create a bowl (be sure not to make any holes in the sides of bottom of the tomatoes). Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 325F.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large frying plan over a high heat and fry the bacon until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to absorb any excess grease. Then chop the slices finely and set aside.

6. Place the garlic in a small baking dish with a little of the remaining olive oil, cover with aluminum foil and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, add the potatoes and onions with the rest of the oil to the pan used to fry the bacon, reduce the heat to moderate and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

8. Put the garlic (with any remaining oil), the potato/onion mixture and beans in a blender or food-processor with the broth, Basil Vodka and vodka and pulse until smooth.

9. Warm in a medium saucepan over moderate heat for 10 minutes or until hot. Swirl in the cream and season to taste with salt and white pepper.

10. Meanwhile place the tomatoes, cut-side down, on a sheet pan or in a roasting pan and roast for about 5-7 minutes, checking frequently as the tomatoes must remain firm.

11. To assemble, place each tomato in the center of a shallow bowl or soup plate. Fill the tomato with the soup and crumble bacon over the top.

Vodka Chicken Broth
Makes about 3 cups
1 whole chicken, skinned
2 small carrots
2 medium onions, with some skin on, rinsed
1 celery stick
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
2 bay leaves
8 black pepper corns
1 cup Basil Vodka (see recipe below) or vodka
6 basil leaves

1. Put the first 6 ingredients in a large pot with enough very cold water to cover.

2. Slowly bring the pot to the boil over a moderate heat. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1-1_ hours, skimming the fat from the surface four or five times while cooking.

3. Add the pepper corns, Basil Vodka and basil leaves and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Strain the broth. Add salt to taste and use in your favorite recipe. Or leave to cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. The boiled chicken meat can be boned, shredded and returned to the broth for a simple and delicious chicken soup.

Basil Vodka
Basil vodka is perfect for cookingăparticularly in sauces and recipes using tomatoes. Combine it with plain vodka in your favorite Bloody Mary recipe. Or mix it evenly with oil and vinegar, then toss with greens and vegetables for a vodka-inspired salad dressing

12 large basil leaves
2 cups vodka
Sprig of basil, for garnishing

1. Wash and dry the basil leaves and combine with about a third of the vodka in a small bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir and bruise the leaves to release their natural oils and flavor.

2. Add this mixture to the remainder of the vodka and store in an airtight container for about 24-48 hours in a dark, dry place. Stir or shake several times to circulate the leaves.

3. Strain through cheesecloth into a bottle and store or display, ready for use.

Recipe by John Rose: Did you know the clear, odorless and tasteless spirit does wonderful things in cooking? It marinades, tenderises meat, great for de-glazing pans and adding flavor, while in cream sauces it lowers the boiling point and so helps to prevent curdling and all while delivering a unique, delectable taste. In The Vodka Cookbook, John Rose takes vodka out of the martini glass and into the kitchen with over 100 recipes. (Reprinted with permission from The Vodka Cookbook by John Rose, Kyle Books)

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More Recipes with Vodka:
  • Vodka Berries Romanoff
  • Citrus Breeze Muffin
  • Vodka Lemon Chicken
  • Vodka White Beam & Roast Garlic Soup
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