I’m just going to be rather stereotypical now and start this recipe off by mentioning the weather – I started thinking about this soup recipe a couple of weeks ago when I started my gnocchi challenge, back when it was still raining and cold and summer hadn’t started for us Brits yet. However when it came to making it, it was the hottest day of the year so far! I nearly turned this into a gnocchi gazpacho it was that hard stood over the stove with the sun beating down on me through the window, but I continued and I’m so glad I did because this soup is wonderful and typical British weather…it got abit cold again!!
I’ve really enjoyed making gnocchi, I think it is something I will continue to experiment with and I’m proud that I’ve learnt a completely new skill. Gnocchi is so easy to make and theres plenty of room for additions such as cheese, herbs or spice. In this case I decided to combine a classic basil and tomato flavour, but with a twist – the basil is in the gnocchi!
I adapted the original gnocchi recipe I made from Gino D’Acampo’s cookbook (click here for my earlier post) because it has been perfect everytime I’ve made it, but I have changed a few things in his method just to fit better with how I like to do things. The tomato soup is my own recipe and I actually much prefer it to my previous tomato soup offering.
I made the dough whilst the soup was slowly simmering away and I love how the basil puree almost marbled the pale dough:
I chopped the dough into three pieces to be able to make smaller gnocchi (my table top wasn’t big enough to roll out larger amounts of the dough) and then I rolled each piece into a long roll about 1-2cm thick and I sliced the roll into small gnocchi pillows. I found it was good to use the first gnocchi I cut as a size reference for the rest, this way I knew they’d all be roughly the same size.
Once you have made the gnocchi (before cooking) place them on a lightly floured tea towel or cloth, this will stop them sticking to the surface (and each other) and makes it easy to pick them up and pop them in the pan when your ready to cook them.
My final tip before I share this recipe is to cook the gnocchi in boiling water and THEN add it to the soup, don’t cook the gnocchi in your soup as although it would work ok you will end up with a flour filled cloudy soup. By boiling the gnocchi before hand you can just pop the puffed up clean little gnocchi pillows into the soup and tuck in! Can you tell I love the word “pillows” at the moment, I really can’t think of a better way to describe them!
For the gnocchi dough:
400g Potatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters
120g Plain flour
2 large handfuls of basil (The more you use the stronger the flavour will be)
drizzle Olive oil
pinch of Salt
For the Tomato Soup:
1 Large onion (or 2 smaller ones)
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Sticks of Celery
1 Red Pepper
8 Cherry Tomatoes
2 Cans Chopped Tomatoes
500-600ml Vegetable stock (see how to make it here)
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Start off by putting the potatoes for the gnocchi on to boil for 20- 25 minutes untill really soft.
Whilst these are cooking you can start making your soup, this will give it enough time to slowly cook and get a rich intense texture and flavour. Start by dicing the onion and slicing the celery sticks and sautee in a little oil in a large sauce pan for 2 -3 minutes then crush the garlic into the pan and continue to cook on a low to medium heat for 10 minutes.
Once the onions and celery are really soft, deseed and chop the rep pepper and add to the pan with the cherry tomatoes (left whole). Cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar and some black pepper, turn the heat down, cover with a lid or some tin foil and leave this to simmer now for 30 – 40 minutes.
Next take your basil leaves and place into a blender with a good lug of olive oil and blitz untill you have a basil puree. Don’t add too much olive oil as you don’t want it to be too wet, just enough to help the basil blend is fine.
By the time you have prepared the soup and basil puree your potatoes should be cooked (or nearly cooked). Once soft, drain them and place back into the pan and mash them. I re-use the pan to save on washing up but you can also do this step in a large bowl. You need to make sure they are really well mashed and silky smooth. I have seen recipes which use a potato ricer or even a blender for this stage but I found good ole hand held potato masher was just fine!
Once smooth add the egg, plain flour, basil puree and a pinch of salt, mix well untill all the ingredients are combined and then place onto a floured surface and knead the dough gently untill you have a lovely soft marbled dough.
Cut the dough into two or three pieces depending on the size of your work top (the bigger the piece of dough, the longer the roll will need to be to get it quite thin). Roll the first piece of dough out into a roll around 1-2cm thick and then using a sharp clean knife slice the gnocchi into pillows and place onto a floured tea towel.
A few good tips here are to keep that knife really clean so you can cut through the dough without it sticking. Rinse the knife clean whenever it begins to get dough stuck to it. Also as mentioned earlier use the first piece you cut as a size guide for each roll. And finally, if the dough gets stuck to the table top then use your sharp knife to slide under it and lift it, this will keep it’s shape better than if you were to try and pick it off with your fingers.
Check on your soup and give it a good stir, if it looks like it needs thickening then take the lid off for the last 15 minutes or so.
Get another pan full of hot water on the go and bring to the boil. In batches drop the gnocchi pillows into the water and when they float to the top they will be ready. Use a slotted spoon to lift them out of the water and place onto a tray or plate untill all of the gnocchi are cooked.
Take your soup off the heat and using a fork go around and slightly crush all of the cherry tomatoes so that they release their juices.
Serve up the soup and then pile the basil gnocchi on to the top and drizzle with a little olive oil and give it a good grind of strong black pepper. The soup will re heat the gnocchi.
It may look like a long set of instructions but I promise you this is an easy dish to make and you alternate working on the soup and then the gnocchi so you are never having to multi task! I’ve really enjoyed my gnocchi Friday challenge month! Next month I’m back to completely unfamiliar baking territory and I’m going to have a go at making cakes! AH!
I have entered this recipe into the “Souper Sundays” event over at Kahakai kitchen.