Greetings all! It’s time for the 2011Vegetarian Giro d’Italia – where the vegetarian lifestyle and Italian cuisine merge in the month of May. For those that are new to following my own grand tour at home, I am a HUGE fan of professional cycling and I cross post these entries so that the hooligans, er, cycling fans over at Podium Cafe  can enjoy the race festivities in a veg-friendly foodie way. Basta…let’s get on with cooking with the Giro!
The cheese dates back to 870 AD. There are a couple theories on how it came about. The first theory is that in the autumn, cows were brought down from the northern Alps and passed through the village of Gorgonzola. The cows – having had a hard time getting serviced on the road – were badly in need of milking. The locals were sitting around with nothing better to do, and volunteered to help in return for the milk. The locals then mixed the curdled morning milk with cooled afternoon milk. The second story goes that a ditzy dairyman accidentally left bundle of curd hang all night long and tried to make up for his mistake by mixing the curdled stuff with his morning milk…and Gorgonzola cheese was born. So, either by Italian industry or laziness, this marvelously pungent creamy blue cheese now exists for us to enjoy.
Vegetarians need to note – traditional Gorgonzola uses animal rennet. There are vegetarian versions of this cheese out there and that is what I used for this recipe .
As you can see from the recipe below, this soup is chock full of cheese and cream. When the In-house Taste Tester looked into the pot he said, “We really shouldn’t eat too much of this at one time, should we?” Yeah, soup with a side of clogged arteries. Best to do it in stages, no? However, once we got started, we nearly ended up eating the whole pot in one go and had to stop ourselves. It was just *that* good.
I’m glad we saved ourselves because the leftovers of this soup handled being refrigerated and had a nice strong finish the next night for dinner. Just like any Grand Tour, you’ve got to look out for yourself not only on that day’s stage but also consider your well-being for the next day.
With its strong “blue cheesy” flavor you’ll want a strong wine to pair with it – head towards a Borolo (tho’ some prefer a wine that doesn’t try to fight back, and look for a smoother Sangiovese).
(as adapted from Bella Online )
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 8 ounces vegetarian Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup cream
- 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and pepper; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Add the Gorgonzola cheese, cream, and vegetable stock; heat the cheese mixture until the cheese melts and the mixture is simmering.
Stir in the tomatoes (including the liquid) and basil.
Allow the soup to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while stirring constantly, but do not let it come to a boil. Make yourself some toasted croutons and dig in!