So, total first-world problem here, but I know some of you out there may feel my pain with this: I searched “tomato bisque” today on Foodgawker, hoping to find a workable recipe. If you haven’t done this before – either searched for this soup in particular, or any other basic dish – then I implore you to avoid it if at all possible (just don’t do it!). The sheer volume of recipes I was bombarded with was overwhelming! I mean, how does one determine which recipe to choose for oneself, when there are so many options that look nearly identical? Sure, they’re staged differently, with varying takes on lighting, angle, exposure, plating, etc….but they’re all essentially big red dots with (usually) white borders. The last thing I want is a recipe from a bad cook who happens to be a good photographer; I’ll take the opposite any day. That being said, I’m not going to go searching online for poorly photographed bisques with the naïve misconception that there’s some sort of negative correlation between cooking and picture-taking.
So, how does one choose which recipe to go for? The main factors for me were time, effort, and ingredients. In terms of time, I simply didn’t have much of it when searching; because of that, I opted to examine only three or four in detail. In terms of effort, well, tonight I simply didn’t have much of it to give…so it had to be dead easy. Finally, in terms of ingredients, I looked for a recipe that not only had intriguing elements I agreed with, but also ones readily available to me. Thankfully, I stumbled upon Dishing up the Dirt’s “Tomato Harissa Coconut Bisque” among my three or four that were shortlisted, and it really delivered.
By the time I was done with it, my bisque looked only remotely like the version that inspired it. In fact, with my addition of orzo, I’m not sure it would technically be considered a bisque. Regardless, served alongside turkey-Havarti-tomato grilled sandwiches, it received the golden “yes, you should definitely make this again” seal of approval from my wife. As I didn’t use Harissa (and had never heard of it before today, in all honesty), I clearly had to change the name a bit. With elements of Thai and Italian mixed into this French-sounding dish, “Fusion Tomato Bisque with Orzo” was the obvious way to go. If you’d like to try it for yourself, here are the details:
Fusion Tomato Bisque with Orzo
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. Hungarian paprika
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes (with Basil), DOP
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- basil for garnishing
- Add the coconut oil to a soup pot and turn element to medium heat. When the oil has melted, toss in the onions and salt, stirring occasionally until softened (about 4 minutes).
- Add in the garlic and spices (cumin, cayenne, coriander, and paprika) as well as the tomato paste, and cook for about a minute. The spices should start to give off a wonderful fragrance by this point.
- Pour the tomatoes and their juices into the pot, along with the sugar and vegetable broth. Bring all of this to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes., stirring occasionally.
- With about 10 minutes to go in the simmering process, blend all of the ingredients in the pot using an immersion blender.
- When blending is complete and there’s about 8 minutes left in the simmering process, add in the orzo pasta.
- After 20 minutes of simmering, add the coconut milk and Sriracha, and season with salt and pepper. Check the pasta for doneness at this point. Because the simmering bisque isn’t as hot as boiling water, the pasta will probably need a few more minutes of simmering. Keep in mind though that the pasta will continue to cook after removing the bisque from heat, so air on the side of al dente.
- When the pasta is done to your liking, remove from heat and serve with the basil garnish.