At the Charleston Food & Wine Festival last weekend, I visited Charleston Cooks Culinary Village in Marion Square, located at the heart of the festival. The site was electric and showcased more than 70 culinary-related businesses that included restaurant demonstrations, wineries, culinary merchandise, cookbook signings and more.Casey Glowacki, executive chef and owner of Five Loaves Cafe, located downtown Charleston and in Mount Pleasant, prepared Tomato Tarragon Soup with Crabmeat Garnish.
A regular on the cafe’s menu, the outstanding soup had a garden-fresh flavor that was accented with the subtle taste of fresh tarragon. Crabmeat was added to each serving at the last possible moment, thereby retaining its freshness, flavor and character.
Glowacki loves to cook with fresh herbs. He grows about 25 kinds in his garden, using many of them in his restaurant dishes. He feels it is better for home cooks to grow their own herbs rather than buy those little packets from the grocery store, which is usually more than you need for a recipe. Leftover herbs often end up going bad before they are used up. Chef Glowacki tends an herb garden at each of his restaurant locations.
~Tomato Tarragon Soup with Crabmeat Garnish~
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons butter
1 quart canned stewed tomatoes
1 quart chicken broth
1/8 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 medium-size tomatoes, diced
1 large tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup picked claw crabmeat for garnish
Saute onions and garlic in butter for 6 to 8 minutes over medium heat. Add canned tomatoes, chicken broth, cream and tomato paste and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure that the soup does not scorch to the bottom of the pot.
Use a ladle to skim and discard any foamy looking substance that rises to the top. Add fresh tomatoes and tarragon and cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot in bowls with a dollop of fresh crabmeat (and a few fresh tarragon leaves if you wish) in the center as garnish.
Look for Allison Askins’ food column today in the State Newspaper.