Week 1 – Soup: Tomato Soup & Pepperoni Twists

Thrilled to get a chance to expand my soup repertoire, I used this first challenge to hunt down a tomato soup recipe worthy of repetition, with or without its pizza flair. By using tomato as a base, the expansion into the pizza realm would be as natural as garnishing with cheese and croutons, which, while delicious, would be a snooze fest. Instead, I swam around the internet until I found a perfect companion for the tomato soup: pepperoni twists.

Having just discovered the outrageous beauty San Marzano tomatoes can bring to a sauce, I already had my main dancing partner in mind for this project. Since these tomatoes are not often found fresh, the canned version helps to significantly diminish the amount of prep work involved. Tomatoes and artichokes are the only canned produce items I keep stocked as they both are able to maintain the same quality as their fresh counterparts with the added bonus of minimizing kitchen labor.

Wanting a basic soup to showcase the charm of San Marzanos, I worked off a Chowhound recipe, adjusting all the while to suit my fancy. A few springs of thyme were steeped during the simmer for a whisper of herbaceousness while I cut the cream altogether to keep the tomatoes singing brightly. To make up for the omitted liquid, I stretched out the soup with 1/2 a cup more broth.

tomato soup.jpg

Building the pizza dough from a Cook’s Illustrated standard found in The New Best Recipe, I chose to experiment with this batch using half bread flour and half whole wheat, resulting in a more textured but equally workable dough.

pepperoni prep

As for the pepperoni twists themselves, I kept true to much of the recipe, choosing to use an indulgent amount of pepperoni so as to pack in the pizza essence.

pepperoni twists

The marriage of tomato soup to pepperoni twists is straightfoward and obvious, yet so captivating. With each dip of bread, the sweet, meaty oil slick left behind infuses an attractive savory character into tanginess of the tomato. The fusion remains present in every spoonful to follow inspiring a pepperoni twist massacre.

Chosen to pair for its boldness of style and fresh acidity, 2006 Tenuta di Trinoro – “Le Cupole,” Rosso, Toscana IGT, Tuscany, Italy is a Bordeaux blend mainly featuring Cabernet Franc (47%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%). The decade of age has soften its edges, but the tannins remain firmly textured while the pairing proves to be just as hedonistic as the dish itself.

final pic

Having leaned a little heavy on the red pepper flake usage in both recipes, the heat from the spice lingers and challenges the weighty alcohol level of the Tuscan. Even still, the bolt of intense fruit present in the wine refreshes the palate with dominating aromatics of black cherries, cooked blackberries and vanilla. Notes of tar and dusty tobacco mirror the savory components brought on by pepperoni, though the pairing seems to thrive on the contrasting of elements.

While hearty enough to stand up to the aromatics of this dish, the Tuscan is notably enjoyable all by its onesie. Meanwhile, tomato soup may never seem complete without a batch of pepperoni twists nearby. They may be distant lovers, capable of existing apart, but there will always the memory  of those couple passionate, wintery nights by the fireplace being engulfed by a cold, hungry pizza kitten waiting for a shiny upvote to appear.

shiny upvote

Knowing future challenges will not be as forgiving, I am exceedingly pleased with the outcome of my first r/52weeksofcooking metatheme challenge. Bring it on, Week 2.

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