Chilled tomato consommé with asparagus, peas, tomato concassé and basil

After the disaster of the foam that didn’t foam I desperately wanted success with this dish. It is SO unsatisfying to spend hours cooking something only to be left with a watery mess at the end of it. I accept the fact that over the course of this project I’ll have some failures, but for now, the sweet sweet smell of success was calling me – in the form of a Chilled Tomato Consommé. I was even going to brave having people over again. (GASP!)

Nothing out of the ordinary in this recipe. Just straight up supermarket bought ingredients. Oh the ease and convenience! The most challenging part was getting ripe and very ripe tomatoes – and that wasn’t challenging at all. The Fruit Market in Leichhardt (the one on the corner near AC Butchery) sorted me out. Can always trust the Italians to have plenty supply of over ripened tomatoes!

I made this a day a ahead, because I could, and I am all for ease and preparedness when entertaining.

All organised ❤

First up, I cooked the chopped vegetables until softened but not browned (about 10 minutes), then stirred in the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes (very ripe) and cooked for another 10 minutes.

Sweating the veg

From here, add all the flavourings – garlic, sugar, salt, basil, tarragon and thyme, along with the tomato juice – then bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Sorry! Bad photoshopping :/

At this point I tasted it and I could have taken it off the stove right there and then and blended it into a soup. Not that you would think that from my photo, it looks more like radioactive waste than a damn tasty tomato mix… but hey, I promise you I am slowly working on my photo skills!

I lined a colander with some muslin and poured in the mixture, pushing all the goodness of the vegies through with the back of a ladle.

What you might not be able to tell in that last pic, is that is the tomato liquid is in a bowl that is set in a larger bowl filled with iced water, to allow it to cool quickly. While it was cooling I washed and sterilised the muslin to re-use later in the recipe. So far, so easy and it was on to the preparation of the “clarifying mix”.

Below in the food processor, the ripe tomatoes, basil and tarragon stems, peppercorns and egg whites…

Yup, EGG WHITES. In the food processor. Can  you guess how this is going to turn out?

Ripe tomatoes, basil, tarragon stems, egg whites


Finally achieved a foam, albeit not very tasty

The next part of the recipe I read over, several times. “Pour the cold tomato liquid into a large pan and add the clarifying mixture.”  Ok, so they want me to add this frothy egg white tomato foam to my beautiful tomato liquid? Okaaaayy…

Okaay-aay, if you say so Gordon. I can’t possibly see how doing that is going to make anything resemble a pretty dish, but at this point, faith in the cookbook is all I got.

“Bring slowly to a boil, all the while whisking vigorously to create a layer of ‘egg white foam’ over the surface.”

“Once the liquid reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently, undisturbed for 15 minutes; the stock will gradually become clear.”  As I allowed it to do this, the foam took on a life of its own, bubbling away like a psychotic, pink, consommé clarifying monster.

It got darker as it cooked, which was great, because it has to take all the redness out of the tomato liquid  AND FOLKS, I THINK WE MAY HAVE A WINNER HERE!

Pink to orange...

It's alive! mwahahahaa

Voila! Look at that. See the colour of the muslin? Aside from a few foamy lumps that is CLEAR BABY!

I was happy with the clarity.. I wonder if Gordon would be?

After slightly adjusting the seasoning, (more salt),  I stored the tomato liquid the fridge over night and the next day I simply prepared the garnishes. The asparagus and peas were blanched in hot water, then transferred to some ice water to retain the colour. When cool, I chopped into approx 10 – 15mm pieces, the tips a bit longer.

The tomato concassé, was made from the recipe in the “Basics” section at the back of the book and I will share the method as it  was the first time I had done it, but pretty handy to know!

Start by lightly scoring a cross at the top and bottom of each tomato. Place them in a bowl, pour on enough boiling water to cover them and wait approx 45 – 60 seconds, when the skins should easily peel off (but not longer or you will turn the tomatoes soft!).  You then simply remove and peel away the skins, quarter and remove the seeds and chop into a fine dice. And there you have it,  a tomato concassé. Basics, indeed.

Lastly, I picked some small and perfect basil leaves from the plant on my balcony and I was ready to plate up  (ooh err look at me with my chef lingo). Plating up was a simple task and quite fun. I put some tomato concassé, asparagus and peas into the bottom of the cup, then poured in the consommé. It was a good working with cold ingredients as sometimes at this point I am doing my best Gordon impression, swearing and carrying on, trying to get everything plated before it gets cold (or melts). The final touch to the dish was a few drops of olive oil and a sweet little basil leaf.

Here’s the finished product –

Pretty nice looking huh?!  My guests thought so too and we all agreed the taste was SENSATIONAL! Although clear and watery looking, it REALLY was packed with flavour. First the predominate tomato,  then the hit of the herbs and the crunch of the asparagus. It really was a beautiful, silky, flavourful dish, perfect for serving on a summers day.

And hey check this out – I think I got pretty close this time.


Gordon's version



  1. Alana
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    well done lou this looks very nice and yours looks just like the picture = win!! i have enjoyed reading through each of your posts.. you’re doing awesome at it. masterchef 2010!?

  2. Steve
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Matt Preston ‘If I was served this in a restaurant, I’d happily finish my meal’ /Matt Preston


    Was indeed yum

  3. Posted June 5, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Well done, it looks exactly like the picture! That’s amazingly involved for the consomme. I think we were served something similar for an amuse bouche! 😮

  4. nettsu
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    this made me laugh
    awesome stuff!

  5. Lisa
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff Lou!

  6. Lynda
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Way to go Lou Lou!! Very impressive. Will we get these kinda meals when we visit??

  7. Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    10/10! My new favourite blog. 😀

  8. irritatinggordon
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Mark, I think I could learn a thing or two about food photography from you.

    Mum, if you actually come to Sydney to see me, I will cook you whatever you like 🙂

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