Creamy Tomato Soup as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

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One of the most popular types of comfort food combinations is the soup and sandwich. And, one of the most popular soup/sandwich combinations is tomato soup and grilled cheese. For my Vintage Classics episode on GHL I prepared Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese with farm fresh bread, cured French ham and aged cheddar. For the ultimate tomato soup I combined a mix of fresh ripe San Marzano plum tomatoes and canned San Marzano tomatoes. During peak harvest season when there is a plentiful supply of farm fresh tomatoes available I would use all fresh, but during shoulder seasons I will mix with high quality San Marzano canned tomatoes. 

Once all your ingredients are assembled comfort can be achieved in about thirty minutes. Mmm Mmm Good!!! 

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George’s Creamy Tomato Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

 chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

5 large ripe San Marzano Plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tablespoons sweet butter

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2-4 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

2- 15 ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil

hot sauce, sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 cup half-and-half 

Pre heat a large 4 quart soup pot.

Add olive oil, onion, garlic and fresh plum tomatoes. Stir and sweat 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the butter and when melted, then add the flour, sir and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the canned San Marzano tomatoes, stir, and simmer 5 minutes. 

Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, and dried basil, simmer for 5 minutes.

Add fresh basil and simmer for 5 additional minutes. 

Remove bay leaves and take the soup off the stove. For a creamier soup use a food pulser and puree slightly leaving a few chunks of tomatoes. Return back to stove and bring back to a boil, and add the optional half-and-half. 

Lower heat and simmer 2 minutes.  

Add hot sauce, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Served topped with crunchy croutons and a few drops of olive oil.

Cinco de Mayo with George's Posole

Join me & Tune-in 8:30AM EST GHL CreateTV Marathon Sat. May 6th

A traditional Mexican dish from the pacific coast region of Jalisco; Posole is a thick soup made with hominy–dried corn with the hull and germ removed. Makes any large gathering a fiesta!

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George's Posole

Makes 8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2 pounds pork shoulder chops

1/2 cup Posole Pork Rub

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion, sliced thick, grilled and chopped

4 jalapenos, roasted on grill; split seeded and chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups hot chicken broth

4 cups canned hominy, drained and rinsed

1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilentro

3 fresh red radishes, sliced thin

1 cup fresh cabbage, finely shredded

Rub pork on all sides with Posole Pork Rub, and refrigerate for at least two 2 hours or overnight.

Pre heat large soup potto high heat.

Brush chops with 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add chops and sear pork on both sides until browned and not fully cooked. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the hot broth, jalapenos, hominy and simmer for 1 hour. Remove chops, cool and chop meat into small pieces. Put pork back into soup. Continue cooking for 30 additional minutes. The longer and slower the soup simmers the better.

Stir in cilantro and serve bowls of soup topped with sliced radish, shredded cabbage, and with warm corn tortillas.

Posole Pork Rub

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon each: ground cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, sweet paprika, chili powder, thyme

1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, allspice

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Seafood Chowder, as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

My inspiration for this chowder is living so close to the water with an abundance of fresh seafood to choose from. The nice part of this recipe is it's versatility. The first part of the chowder is a rich tomato broth base, and the second part is adaptable to allow you to swap out any of the seafood based on seasonal availability and your own personal preference.

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Seafood Chowder

Makes 6-8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle TV series

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped 

1/4 cup fennel, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup carrots, choppd

2 cups yukon potatoes, scrubbed and diced into 1/2 pieces 

2 cups fresh plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped or 1 (28 ounce can chopped San Marzano tomatoes)

2 cups vegetable or fish broth

1 teaspoon dried basil

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"now that's a chowder" on set George Hirsch Lifestyle

For the seafood:

1 dozen fresh little neck clams

1/2 pound fresh cod, cut into one inch pieces 

1/4 pound calamari, cleaned and cut into thin rings 

1 pound mussels, cleaned

a few leaves of fresh flat leaf parsley, basil and oregano

fresh ground pepper to taste 

Pre heat a large soup pot to medium temperature. Add olive oil and onions, fennel, carrots, and garlic until tender. Add tomatoes, broth, potatoes, and dried basil. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 10 minutes. Add clams and cod fish, gently simmer for 10 minutes. Add fresh basil, parsley, mussels and cook for 3-5 minutes or until mussels open.  

Add fresh ground black pepper to taste & serve immediately. 

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Gameday Gumbo

enjoy GHL six times weekly T,W,TH & F on Create TV

..good gumbo takes time, a great gumbo takes longer…

Whether it’s a stew or soup-like, there is nothing more satisfying than a hearty bowl of Gumbo. 

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Gumbo is truly Cajun and the official state dish of Louisiana; one that celebrates their heritage of sustenance off the land. I have on several occasions been part of a true Cajun 'Gumbo' party which is an all-day outdoor celebration. There is nothing like cooking a gumbo with a little outdoor flavor - especially if the meats or vegetables have been pre-grilled or smoked before being added to the gumbo pot. 

There are numerous ingredients that can be added to a gumbo, but it's really all about utilizing what’s on hand. Chicken, duck + rabbit are the usual meats, along with ham and smoked sausage. A seafood gumbo can contain shrimp, crab and oysters. However, the basics ingredients used in any gumbo are the “holy trinity” consisting of onion, celery and green peppers, thickened with a dark roux.  

Additionally, the make up of a Cajun Gumbo is the use of heritage ingredients such as the African vegetable okra, together with the cooking influences of local Choctaw Indians, French, German and Spanish settlers. The addition of tomatoes is more Creole and not of Cajun influence. I believe the addition of tomatoes with all the other ingredients in the gumbo pot provides a wonderful mix of culture and full flavor. With such a rich culture as Louisiana has it is important to note that the preparing of a gumbo goes far beyond the making of this ‘stew’ and really brings together the community.  

This full flavored gumbo is a lighter version than the Cajun traditional, yielding to the heavier butter and flour versions making a more traditional stew or soup. However, the basics of broth and rice carry true and the rest is up to you. Make it seafood with crab, shrimp, or crawfish. Or, with chicken, duck or all vegetable.

George's Gumbo

Makes six servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | Adapted from George Hirsch Living it UP! cookbook.

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 pound boneless chicken thighs, diced

1/2 pound smoked sausage (chorizo or kielbasa), chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 cup okra, fresh or frozen, sliced

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups canned whole tomatoes, chopped

4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon each, oregano, thyme, sage

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley

1 Tablespoon hot sauce, or more to taste

2 teaspoons gumbo file powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup chicken broth (for thickening)

Fresh ground black pepper

Optional: 

1 pound large (26-30) size shrimp, peeled & devein, save shells for broth

2 cups cooked steamed white or brown rice

Heat a large soup pot to a medium temperature. Add the olive oil and chicken, and smoked sausage. Add the onion, and cook until a light golden color, stirring occasionally. Add the green bell pepper, green onion, celery, and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, chicken broth, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, hot sauce, and fresh ground black pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Add the okra and gumbo file. Simmer for at least an additional 35 to 45 minutes. Additional time of slow simmering will intensify flavors.

Before serving, add shrimp and cook for 5-8 minutes until done. 

Serving suggestion: serve with a scoop of steamy hot rice

Note: If using shrimp, cook shrimp shells in chicken broth for ten minutes to extract additional flavor, strain shells and use broth.

Gumbo file can be found in the spice section of your market.