While farm-to-fork meals might seem like strange zoo fare compared to the hot dogs and sugary drinks normally available, the Toledo Zoo in Ohio is taking a nod from the local-food movement and elevating the quality of the food it serves. As zoo guests stroll by elephants and giraffes, they can partake in a cup of soup made from fresh ingredients or an ear of corn grown locally. Here’s one of the items found on Chef Sam Misiura’s menu that you can make yourself.
- 1½ pounds fresh sauce tomatoes (romas, San Marzano, Roman Candles), cored and halved
- 1/3 pound diced carrots
- 1/3 pound diced celery
- 1/3 pound diced onions
- 2 Idaho russet potatoes, peeled and cut into six pieces
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 2 cups chardonnay (can substitute water or chicken stock)
- 2 cups water
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 T. whole cumin, toasted and ground
- 1 T. whole coriander, toasted and ground
- 1 T. ground turmeric
- 1 T. Madras curry powder
- 1 T. smoked Spanish paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup canola oil, divided, plus more for tossing tomatoes
- Garnish with Asian chili oil, fresh cilantro, sesame seeds, papadum crackers, matzo crackers or naan.
Preheat oven to 450.
Toss tomatoes in oil with a few pinches of salt and pepper, and lay out on cookie tray lined with foil. Roast until skins start to scorch, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
In large stockpot over medium to high heat, heat 1/4 cup canola oil. Sauté the carrots, onions and celery until soft and starting to brown, continuously scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon.
While vegetables sautéing, heat small sauté pan over very low heat. Add remaining 1/4 cup canola oil, minced ginger and garlic, and ground seasonings. Simmer as gently as possible, not allowing garlic to brown, for up to 10 minutes. This will soften garlic and ginger and allow flavors to meld and infuse into the oil. Turn off heat and set aside.
When vegetables are well cooked and beginning to brown, add tomato paste and cook well to reduce the bitter flavor. Stir and scrape often, adding a little additional canola oil if needed. When paste is well-cooked, add spicy oil mixture. Add chardonnay to deglaze and use it to clean the bottom and sides of your pot. Simmer to reduce in volume by about half, about 20 minutes, stirring often.
Turn down to medium heat. Add the coconut milk, roasted tomatoes, water and potatoes and simmer, stirring, until potatoes are soft enough to mash with a fork, about 30 minutes.
Remove soup from stovetop and purée with immersion blender or strain out solids and blend in a conventional blender or food processor. When soup is smooth or at desired consistency, taste and adjust for seasoning. Return to stove and keep warm over low heat.
Serve well-garnished in warm bowls or mugs. If reserving soup for later, cool in ice bath before storing.