It’s that time of the year again – the last few weeks of summer. Today it’s not so bad; however, yesterday it was in the 90s outside with humidity to match. My husband was watching Michigan playing football on television. Wait a minute, isn’t football watching weather supposed to be somewhat cool? Something like it was a few weeks ago when we were in the Scottish highlands?
Well, even though the weather is not cooperating with my current frame of mind, summer’s end is absolutely the best time for tomatoes. However, since I got sick with a nasty bug while in Scotland, soup seemed more appropriate for my situation than another salad.
One of the things I love to do when I travel is go to a local bookstore and see what sort of cookbooks written by local chefs are available. Note: Scotland was no different. Recipes for baked goods with lots of oats will be seen on Jeannine’s Cuisine in the future.
When my husband and I went to Traverse City, Michigan, at the beginning of the summer I went on my usual cookbook scavenger hunt and found a winner. It’s a beautiful little book called “Fork in the Road,” written by Okemos, Michigan chef, Eric Villegas. The recipes make great use of the local produce, none are too time consuming and “restauranty,” but they all have a little twist to make them interesting.
This tomato soup is great made with seasonal summer tomatoes. And don’t limit yourself to just the standard supermarket variety. I imagine you could make this with any variety of heirloom tomato as well. Just be careful when mixing colors so as not to end up with something weird. It will still taste great, but the final color could be a little distasteful looking. Sadly, I do not recommend this soup with anything but the ripest, freshest tomatoes, so you are pretty much limited to making it in the summertime. Think of it this way – those tomatoes are what makes all this heat we’ve been withstanding worthwhile.
Creamy Grilled Tomato Soup
Unlike traditional tomato soup, the color of this one turns out as a pastel version of whatever tomato you are using. Don’t begin to think that lack of a vibrant color means lack of tomato taste. It’s smoky and delicious.
5 pounds of ripe Summer tomatoes, type your choice
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
2 cups heavy cream
Preheat your grill.
Place the tomatoes on the grill core side up and grill until they turn black, turning once. Use tongs to remove the tomatoes from the grill, placing them and any charred bits you can peel off the grill in a large saucepan.
Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes as much as possible. Season with a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Continue to taste and season while preparing the soup.
Bring the tomatoes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are reduced to a thick puree, about 20 minutes, but adjust cooking time as needed.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Note: a Vitamix is great for this, but any blender will do. Be very careful when blending hot liquids so as not to splatter the kitchen and yourself with molten tomatoes. Fill the blender container no more than two thirds full at a time and take out the removable center of the lid and cover with a towel with your hand firmly on top. The towel will keep the liquid in the blender, but allow the steam to escape. You can also use an immersion blender to puree the soup, but the texture won’t be as smooth.
Return the soup to the pan, add the cream and cook until warm, about 5 minutes. Check seasoning one more time and serve.
Adapted from Fork in the Road, by Eric Villegas