Hot Roast Red Pepper Soup with a Blue Cheese Flan
Sometimes you make a multi-component dish that may work well as separate elements but when combined, the elements don’t really gel. Other times, the elements come together in a way where the whole dish is a far greater success than the sum of the parts. This is one of those times. I’d been meaning to make a soup and flan combo for a while, always seemed to me like a good way to introduce a rich creamy element into the soup, especially if the flan is flavored in a way that would combine nicely with the soup. Here, the flan was a really delicious counter to the hot smokiness of the pepper soup, and the soup in turn cut through the eggy richness of the flan. I also used a gorgonzola cream on top of the flan to add to the cheesiness of the dish, but in hindsight, the cream should’ve been whipped as a foam, it would’ve looked much more appealing and probably tasted better. In this dish, I also used a bit of crispy chicken skin to give the dish a nice textural component. All in all, I was pretty happy with the results.
I used a Giada Di Laurentis recipe as the basis for the soup, with a few tweaks, and the flan is just basically a Quiche filling without the crust.
Here’s the recipe to serve 4
3 x large roasted red bell peppers (a good how to guide to roasting the peppers is here)
2 x tbsp of olive oil
2 x chopped garlic cloves
1 x medium onion chopped
1 x chopped celery stick
1 x chopped carrot
1/2 x chopped potato
3 x cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of white wine
2 tsp of crushed chili flakes
1 tsp of paprika
1 x tsp of brown sugar
The soup is very simple, just add the aromatics; the celery, garlic, carrots, onions, garlic and chili into a deep pot after the olive oil has been heated over a medium high temperature and just brown and sweat the vegetables off for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and allow the mixture to reduce to about half for about 5-10 minutes. Lower the heat and pour in the peppers, the paprika, the sugar, the potatoes and the stock. Allow it all to cook well over a low heat for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are really tender. Transfer the contents to a blender, and then blend and strain back into the pot, keep the soup warm until just about ready to serve. If you feel you need to thin the soup out, just add some chicken stock.
For the Flan:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius and butter 4 ramekins well
3 x large eggs, beaten
1/2 x cup heavy cream
1/2 x cup crumbled strong blue cheese
1 x cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Simply combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and pour into the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a water bath and into the oven they go. Allow to cook for about 30-40minutes, until the flan has set but is still somewhat wobbly. Remove the ramekins from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, run a sharp knife around the flans and tip over to extract them from the ramekins. I then used a ring mold to re-size them into a smaller, more refined portions.
Blue cheese cream:
Half a cup of whipping cream
1/3 cup of strong crumbled blue cheese
Using an electric whisk whip the cream until it starts to expand, add the cheese in small portions and continue to whisk, until all the cheese has been incorporated.
Now all you need is to bring the different elements together. In a shallow bowl, add your flan to the center and pour the soup all around it. Form quenelles of the cream and top over the flan. I used crisped up chicken skin to give the dish a textural element, however, since crispy chicken skin isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, feel free to add it or remove it at your discretion (not that there’s anything forcing you to make the rest of the recipe in a certain way either). Hope you enjoy!