Smoky Chilled Tomato Soup. Heirloom Tomato, Peach Panzanella “Relish”

Savory Recipes, Summer • 3 Aug 2013

The moon was so explosively vibrant that it kept my son awake. We refused to draw the blinds, nighttime’s shackles, as we were both equally smitten with its shimmering spectacle. I had to approach the glimmering window glass for a better glimpse and found myself needing to squint to shield my sensitive pupils from its histrionic luminescence.

It looked like a fiery bulb in the sky, or a flickering flame. It was like a twilight sun, lit by a night sky, burning bright from summer’s heat.

Roasted tomatoes

We watched it wax and wane behind dancing leaves, ebbing and flowing with the wind. Viewing this private show as he drifted, as I subtly sniffed his freshly-bathed, tanned summer skin, I dubbed it “our moon.”

We awoke the next morning to prodigious temperatures. It was brutally hot; the kind of heat where your face melts in one swift collision with the air. Our poetic moon was replaced by a vindictive, impetuous sun.

In the summer months we clock many hours outdoors, the sun beating our backs with its vicious rays, layers of protective sunscreen smeared on our sun-kissed flesh. Coming into our cramped, steamy New York apartment at the close of the day, we need showers, and hasty nourishment: cool food to replenish and chill us from within, food that can be made a day ahead, flavors that ripen and blossom overnight.

I glance at the calendar and am reminded that tomato season is upon us. I often have to look at the calendar, or the summer moon, to orient myself. Days at home with a young one often leave you dizzy with vertigo, lost in a time warp.

Tomato Soup close up

I pick up two huge bunches of local farm-fresh tomatoes, warm, taut and bursting with earthy red juice. Weary from their trip home, they lay askew but copacetic on my countertop. I stare at them, increasingly fidgety. As I marvel at my bounty and twiddle my thumbs, I hope a recipe will materialize. As much as I yearn to avoid oven cooking, the tomatoes are pleading to be roasted under the embers of a flickering oven; roasted until tender and caramelized with a few turns of black pepper, a splash of olive oil and slivers of spicy garlic- perfection in simplicity.

I’m craving cold summer soup, soup made smoky by smoked paprika, deep and richly flavored by good quality stock and a splash of white wine. I’m also craving sweet, so I quickly dice a ripe, juicy peach and toss it with oil-saturated toasted bread and raw heirloom cherry tomatoes to create a panzanella “relish.” Farm to table goodness, inspired by the calendar and the moon, best consumed at twilight.

Smoky Chilled Tomato Soup. Heirloom Tomato, Peach Panzanella “Relish”

2 pound ripe plum tomatoes, washed, cored and sliced in half lengthwise
1 red bell pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large shallot or 2 small shallots
1 tablespoon butter
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

1/4 cup loosely packed microgreens
6 1/4-inch slices French bread
Olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
8-12 heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise into fourths
3 tablespoons ripe peach, cut into a small dice
Olive oil for drizzling

1. Set the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the red pepper on the sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes, turning the pepper about every 5-10 minutes. Remove the pepper when it is evenly blackened and blistered.

2. Immediately place the pepper in a small glass or metal bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the pepper is cool and the skin easily peels away from the flesh. Discard skin, core and seeds.

3. While the pepper is cooling, turn down the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in one layer and roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the tomatoes begin to caramelize and collapse.

4. In a pot over medium heat, melt butter with the olive oil. Add shallots, bay leaf and paprika and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes. Add lemon juice and stock and return to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and remove bay leaf.

5. Add broth, pepper and tomatoes to a blender and puree in batches. Pour soup into a large bowl and refrigerate until cool, preferably overnight.

6. To make the relish, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of each slice of bread generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the bread for 1-2 minutes on each side, until crispy and golden but still somewhat soft. While still warm, slice each piece of bread into thin strips and then further into a dice.

7. Serve soup cold, garnished with microgreens, cherry tomatoes, peaches, bread and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Yield: Serves 4.

One Response

  1. Mira

    Oh Kate this dish looks so delicious.!!!

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