Pineapple marries well with French vintner: Begets fab summer soup

Soup - Pineapple gazpacho

Like Harry Potter’s phoenix, good things can rise up again.

When a person insists on changing recipes, stuff can go hay-wire. Take this pineapple gazpacho, for example.

Company was seated. Candles were lit. I was putting the finishing touches on little cucumber boats I had carved to decorate my soup bowls.

I was about to ladle out my chilled pineapple gazpacho, when I stole a taste.

ARGGGG. Sooo bitter!

How did I ever get myself into this not-so-fine state of affairs?

The recipe from Richard for pineapple gazpacho looked fabulous. But me being Vinny, I was unhappy over its call for bread, especially WHITE bread. Also the bread was supposed to be soaked in heavy cream! I tell you. How could that happen in Vinny’s kitchen?

So I got out a few slices of the whole-grain bread we always have on hand and soaked it in skim milk whisked with a little coconut oil. My regular readers know how good coconut oil is for a body. But sadly, I’d forgotten that its short-chain saturated fat molecules don’t stay liquid for long in cold milk! Zapping the oil in the micro for a few seconds solved that problem. But I worried about whether it would stay liquified after the soup was made. After all, this soup is supposed to be served chilled.

As it turned out, the pureed soup tasted great and the coconut oil stayed mixed. All was well. But I felt flustered. I read the recipe again. Gadzooks. I had forgotten one of the key ingredients… a small cucumber. It wasn’t gazpacho without cucumber!

I plucked a cucumber from the fridge and pureed it on the spot, seeds, skin and all, passed the puree through my strainer, and added the strained flesh to my soup bowl. Green skin and seeds in the strainer went straight to the compost.

Tasting the final product, I expected to be hit with true deliciousness. But no! A bitter cucumber taste permeated my mouth. Yuck. How could I fix this disaster?

I tried adding salt. No good. Another little dash of sugar. Uh-uh. Panic!

Meet the groom

Meet the groom

Then it hit me. I remembered reading how one chef never serves soup without a splash of booze.  From the front of our liquor cabinet, a brand-new bottle of Grand Marnier was calling my name.  A tablespoonful of this aromatic orange nectar in each bowl was all it took. YUM!

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Grand Marnier has been winning awards for over 150 years for the Marnier-Lapostolle family in France. Its  flavor comes from an orange famous for its scent. On the family’s plantation in the Caribbean, these Bigaradia oranges are hand-picked while their peels are still green. They dry naturally under the sun for several weeks. Slow distillation extracts an orange essence of the finest quality. When this extract is mixed with the best of French cognacs, the result is, well, Grand Marnier!

What better way to rescue a fine soup ruined by an unpleasant cucumber skin!

Granted, there is alcohol involved. So, you won’t be adding any to the kiddies’ bowls. But for nonpregnant, nondriving adults, adding a dash of Grand Marnier  raises your bowl of pineapple soup from great to sublime. And especially so if you take the time to peel your cucumber :).

The singer Madonna contributed to making Grand Marnier fashionable at parties in New York and London. And now, you can try it at home.

So by all means, experiment. But be prepared to fix unexpected problems as you go along.

Here’s Richard’s recipe, modified to correct the mistakes I made first time round. Formidable!

Here comes the bride

Here comes the bride

Pineapple gazpacho, partnered with Grand Marnier

For the Pineapple soup

  • 3 slices whole-grain bread with the crusts
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized very ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 small English cucumber, peeled and seeded (or your soup will be a bitter pill to swallow)
  • 1/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil whisked with 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Soup - Pineapple gazpacho

For the pickled carrots (optional)

  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • pinch salt
  1. Julienne the carrots using a carrot peeler to make wide thin slices and a paring knife to cut these into thin sticks.
  2. Add the honey, salt, vinegar and water to a small container.
  3. Whisk to incorporate and add julienned carrots.
  4. Cover, put in refrigerator and let sit for at least 2 hours.

To make the soup

  1. Cube bread, place in a bowl and pour buttermilk whisked with 2 tablespoons olive oil over bread.
  2. Toss to mix milk, oil, and bread together and set aside until needed.
  3. Add chopped pineapple to a food processor (or Vitamix blender, if you have one). Puree.
  4. Add the following ingredients to the pineapple and puree after each addition:
      •  bread
      • yogurt
      • salt
      • hot sauce
      • lime-flavored olive oil
      • honey
      • red wine vinegar
      • cucumber, peeled and deseeded
  5. Blend for 30 seconds on highest speed.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, 2 hours or so.

To serve

  1. Place a cucumber boat filled with the pickled carrot in the middle of a bowl.
  2. Ladle the soup around the cucumber boat till it floats.*
  3. Finish with a drizzle of Grand Marnier (about 1 tablespoon per bowl).

DSCN3234_edited

*You don’t have to make the boats. I just felt like being whimsical, as I was inviting a sailer to dinner. Decorate the soup with the pickled carrots or with chopped red pepper, cucumber and basil,  or even with a drizzle of oil, if you like.

So ends the story of how you can bring nearly any recipe back from the brink of disaster with a few sloshes of booze. Don’t tell the kids.

Related Link

Pineapple kings them all – Review the health benefits of pineapple. Recipe: Pineapple salsa plus other ideas for using this fruit in meals.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. melanie
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 16:34:07

    magnifique… cheers! :-)

    Reply

  2. chefmo73
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 18:21:38

    Alcohol makes everything brighter!

    Reply

  3. Janet Rörschåch
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 09:47:16

    Booze, Vinny, is the answer to a lot of cooking problems! Well done.

    Reply

  4. richardmcgary
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 23:30:50

    Hi, Sharon. It looks wonderful and I like the little cucumber boats. I seriously love Grand Marnier and have been known to have a little glass as a nightcap. I can imagine the flavor incorporated with the pineapple. I bet it was amazing. I will definitely have to give this a try.

    Reply

    • Vinny Grette
      Sep 04, 2013 @ 23:42:03

      Thanks, Richard! Upon looking into things, it seems using bread in soup is quite an accepted European “country” thing to do. So I decided not to strain at all the second time I tried this, because we like a little fibre and straining takes a lot of effort. It wasn’t as pretty, though. I would make this again, but would advise people to look for a really ripe pineapple and a young cucumber. I think salting the cucumber for a half hour then draining and rinsing well would make sure the bitter taste was well and truly expunged.

      Reply

      • richardmcgary
        Sep 05, 2013 @ 00:03:45

        The use of bread in soups and sauces is very common in many locales. It provides the flour for thickening, if needed, and also can tone down some of the flavors to give it a rounder flavor. We use a piece of bread when we make chile colorado for some for our Mexican dishes as it is quite common in Mexican cuisine.
        As for the young cucumber, did you use an English cucumber? We prefer them because they have fewer seeds and are sweeter. Salting the cucumber would also accomplish taking away some of the bitterness from the cucumber.
        We have a vitamix blender which is like a lawnmower attached to a carafe. It really liquifies things so straining had very little effect. We strained it through a fine mesh chinois which captured some of the fibre but the final result was a silky smooth, thick soup.
        I agree that you need a very ripe pineapple, which we had. You definitely need the sweetness of a ripe pineapple. I also think the next time I make it I will use creme fraiche, mexican crema or more heavy cream instead of the Greek yogurt. I thought the Greek yogurt was a little too thick and added an unnecessary bite to the soup. The Grand Marnier, however, would take this soup over the top and I am definitely going to do that the next time we make this soup.

        Reply

        • Vinny Grette
          Sep 05, 2013 @ 11:41:49

          I’ve added the appropriate adjectives to my recipe – thanks! You are a good cook, Richard :). I did retain the lower fat options, though, because I “really” don’t like the saturated fats in dairy… for health reasons, not taste, of course. The last time I wanted to use creme fraiche in a gourmet recipe I was trying, I couldn’t find it at the grocery store – I had to make it (which was really fun, actually – so cool to see science at work :) ).

          Reply

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