My First Chilled Tomato Soup of 2016
Ripe beefsteak tomatoes have finally arrived on the east end of Long Island. They are about a week or two behind local cherry tomatoes and it’s great to have the whole tomato family around to cook (and not cook) with for the remainder of the summer.
My approach to using tomatoes during the summer has been more or less the same for the last 20+ years. I use cherries and beefsteaks more or less interchangeably in salads, chilled soups, cocktails, and vinaigrettes. I use paste and plum tomatoes mainly for making tomato paste and canning for future uses such as tomato sauce, hot soups and other sauces that might require a hit of tomato sweetness. I don’t use paste or plum tomatoes raw. They don’t offer enough flavor and they generally lack the juicy, pulpy deliciousness that I crave in cold preparations.
I wasted no time in putting the fruit to use in my kitchen this week and one of my favorite things to make is a chilled tomato soup. It’s similar to gazpacho but it takes a few extra liberties. This summer I am growing Purple Cherokee, Black Krim and Aunt Ruby’s German green tomatoes for beefsteaks and my cherry tomatoes are Matt’s Wild Cherry. I also have some San Marzano plants for my paste tomato needs. The key to making a great tasting chilled tomato soup is to use tomatoes that have great flavor, and the beefsteaks and cherries I planted are known for that quality.
Here is how I make my soup: (Note: I use a Vitamix blender for a super smooth soup and I don’t strain it)
2.5 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 2″ pieces
1 Kirby cucumber seeded, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
1 jalapeno pepper, split with stem and seeds removed
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon shio koji (it’s optional but it’s good)
1 tablespoon white verjus or white wine vinegar
1/4 c. Sicilian extra-virgin olive oil (any good olive oil will work fine)
Salt to taste
Place everything except the salt and olive oil into the blender and blend on high until it is extremely smooth. Reduce the speed to medium and add the olive oil and salt to taste. Add enough salt so that the soup is almost too salty. Once it is chilled the seasoning will be perfect because cold food requires more seasoning than room temperature or hot food.
Chill the soup until you are ready to serve it. When you do serve it you can garnish the soup with a drizzle of olive oil, some small basil leaves scattered about and a grind of black pepper. I like to use Thai basil because the slight anise flavor seems to compliment the flavor of the soup nicely.
If you don’t use a Vitamix blender, I recommend straining the soup.