Tomato Soup

We have the pleasure of making 1200 portions of alphabet soup and sandwich for a banquet event at the hotel. We start by blending and seasoning tomatoes with herbs and spices. The we load the puree into 5 gallon cambros and freeze. Then we take the giant tomato ice blocks out of the cambro and wrap in 4 layers of cheese cloth. The we let them defrost under refrigeration over a perf pan and wait to collect our clear soup base. Mix with alginate and either microwave in batches to remove the bubbles or if you have time let sit in the walk in overnight. Then we brunoise and blanch root vegetables. The we cook our mini alphabet noodles. Load the molds with the noodles and veg then top off with the alginate mix.

The only way to get them perfectly smooth is to freeze with liquid nitrogen then hold them until service. We submerge them into a hot calcium solution, then into hot water to defrost and heat through. They then get a nice coat of evoo and fleur de sel. Our tomato version pictured here.

The banquet version will be placed on a grilled cheese with Grafton Village white cheddar and brioche. Last night we did some plain tomato soup balls for amuse with waterkist tomato tartare, basil oil, toasted brioche, and micro parsley.

They are about 1.5oz each. Something to think about when making them this big is texture. You need to let the balls sit in the calcium bath a little bit longer so the encapsulation will hold and they won't collapse on themselves. Now that you have a thicker skin you need to have some crunch in there to mask the texture of the skin. They are liquid inside so you get the caviar pop just on a larger scale. We haven't been playing with this application for a while. Even though it seems new to people who aren't in the know about modern food, we've been making these for over 3 years now. I think alginate has jumped the shark a bit in the same way foams have but we still incorporate them here and there.


  1. Still cool.... we do something similar with reverse spherification starting with the solution frozen in small demi spheres. literally thawing the frozen spheres in the algin bath with the result being a perfect encapsulated orb with a soft but sturdy gelled orb. Calcium in the frozen solution of course. then simply warmed in a water bath.

  2. i have been thinking about an encapsulation using an oyster to create a component for an oyster rockfeller... The idea was to create a stable perfect round then play with the concept... The idea has bounced back and forth ....
    Its really cool to see ideas on the mainstream...How long did this take you Chris...?

  3. In terms of developement, about a month of constant testing. This is when there was no calcium lactate available, no gluconate, no Alinea. We had just got hooked up with Alex and Aki when they were still at Keyah Grande. Wylie was working with it but the techniques were still being kept a secret. Adria had the pea ravioli with iberico ham air but we were still learning about him with no access to the $300 book. We had 50lb bags of alginate and calcium chloride and these were considered samples. It was an interesting time and we put alot into figuring all this out on our own with minimal help and now this is common place for many restaurants around the world.

    In terms of time to produce, not long if you have the alginate base at hand. Everything is pretty simple after that.

  4. It's amazing how your timeline puts things into perspective. You are right when you say that this is commonplace for many restaurants around the world, but how many of them can pull it off and have is consistently taste good with good texture. We are still learning how to get there. You have quite a head start on the rest of us.
    Also, even when you pay the $300 for an El Bulli book (which I never personally have, but have had access too occasionally), the recipes don't always work.