The Chef: Ryan Bartlow
His Restaurants: Ernesto’s in New York City.
What He’s Known For: Cooking Spanish classics without compromise. Paying homage to regional traditions. Raising New York’s tapas game.
AS A YOUNG CHEF Ryan Bartlow chanced on the “El Bulli” cookbook by Spanish molecular gastronomist Ferran Adrià and was duly wowed. “I’d never seen food like this,” he said of the avant-garde recipes. Mr. Bartlow made his way to a triple-Michelin-starred restaurant outside San Sabastián, where he cooked complicated meals for a year.
While he was there, however, the Spanish cooking that captured his heart was more homespun. Now, at Ernesto’s in Manhattan, he serves rustic classics like this chilled soup topped with hard-boiled eggs and tuna preserved in olive oil, a version of southern Spain’s salmorejo. “It’s humble food,” Mr. Barlow said of his first Slow Food Fast recipe. “It has a soul.”
Made with tomatoes, garlic, onions and toasted bread, it’s a bit thicker than gazpacho. The ingredients sit together in a bowl until the bread absorbs all the juices. A quick blitz in the blender produces a creamy soup.
The bread provides the necessary body to support the toppings. “The egg should be hard-boiled for texture. And the tuna should be left in large flakes,” said Mr. Barlow. “They should sit on the soup, not sink into it.”
In such a simple recipe, quality ingredients count. We’re finally in the season when tomatoes are truly gorgeous; splurge on good olive oil and vinegar. Mr. Bartlow’s advice for this recipe pretty much sums up his approach overall: “Everything should be good and kept simple.”
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Made with tomatoes, garlic, onions and toasted bread, this soup a bit thicker than gazpacho. The ingredients sit together in a bowl until the bread absorbs all the juices. A quick blitz in the blender produces a creamy soup
- ¼ baguette, cut into about five 1-inch rounds
- ½ cup olive oil, plus more to brush bread and garnish soup
- 4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cored and quartered
- ½ yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
- 3 ounces tuna preserved in olive oil, drained
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously brush bread on both sides with olive oil. Arrange slices on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, toss toasted bread with tomatoes, onions, garlic, ½ cup oil and vinegar. Season with a generous pinch of salt and let mixture rest until bread softens and absorbs tomatoes’ juices, at least 15 minutes.
- In a blender, purée all ingredients together until smooth. With motor running, drizzle in honey, if using. Once soup is thick, uniform and creamy, pour into a bowl and season with more salt, vinegar and oil to taste. Refrigerate until completely cool.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with flaked tuna and eggs. Drizzle with more olive oil, season with salt and serve immediately.
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—Kitty Greenwald is a chef, food writer and the co-author of ‘Slow Fires’ (Clarkson Potter)
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