This subtly nuanced cold tomato soup is a close cousin to gazpacho, but with unexpected, and frankly addictive, flavor twists.
Chilled Creole Tomato Soup with Olive Lemon Tapenade
The inspiration for this Louisiana-style gazpacho comes from New Orleans chef, John Besh, who created the prototype for his restaurant August. It’s a bit less assertive than a traditional gazpacho. (Don’t let the rather large amount of garlic alarm you. It becomes mild and sweet with cooking.)
Although not essential, I love the Olive Lemon Tapenade embellishment. It adds an intense burst of flavor to each spoonful.
1 dried ancho chile
¼ cup cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped (2 tablespoons chopped)
4 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, peeled, and coarsely chopped (or four, 15-ounce cans best quality canned tomatoes)
3 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, ribbed, and chopped (3 cups chopped)
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To hydrate chile, put into a small bowl, and cover with boiling water. Use a metal spoon to keep chile submerged until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove stem, seeds, and ribs. Chop and reserve.
- To prepare soup, in a large, nonreactive pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, and sweat garlic until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes.
- Add drained, hydrated chile, tomatoes, and bell peppers, cover partially, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peppers are soft, about 15 minutes.
- Add stock and vinegar, and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Using a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, purée soup to a fine consistency.
- Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
- To serve, ladle into chilled, shallow soup bowls, and swirl a spoonful of tapenade onto each serving.
Makes about 2 quarts.
Olive Lemon Tapenade
This is a wonderfully full-flavored embellishment for soup, crostini, pizza, pasta, salad, or quesadillas. A mere drizzle lifts the whole dish.
Don’t be afraid of the anchovies here. They add a balancing note of umami. Start with one, and see how you like it.
¼ cup pitted Calamata olives (or jarred Olive Salad)
2 cloves garlic
2 best quality, oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a small processor, purée olives, garlic, anchovies (if using), and lemon juice.
- With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil.
Makes about ½ cup.
Smokin’ Hot Cajun Croutons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Smokin’ Hot Cajun Spice
1 clove garlic, peeled, and pressed or chopped
coarse sea salt in grinder, to taste
black pepper in grinder, to taste
5-6 ounces cut or torn French or Italian bread
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together butter and olive oil, and then stir in Cajun spice and garlic.
- Add torn or cut bread and toss to coat with butter and oil.
- Grind salt and black pepper over the croutons, and toss to distribute evenly.
- Arrange croutons on an edged baking sheet and bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, turning with a spatula once or twice in the process. Croutons with be crunchy and golden-brown here and there when done.
- Remove from the oven, and let cool on the baking sheet.
- Store in airtight freezer bags until needed. Croutons will keep for a few days. Rewarm to freshen.
Copyright 2017 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.