When the days turn hot, this cold tomato soup is a great refresher. It is unusual in that the tomatoes are not cooked but lightly smoked.
The smoky flavor is elusive. Other flavorings include bacon, jalapeno, onion, garlic, herbs and lime, with just a bit of orange juice to give it a slight sweetness.
Pureed yellow bell pepper is mixed with sour cream to form a mock creme fraiche that is decoratively drizzled on top of the soup.
The trick is to make sure the creme fraiche and soup are the TC same consistency. If the creme fraiche is too heavy, it will sink, and if too runny, it will . . . well, run. Add a little water to whichever is heavier.
To roast bell peppers, place over a high gas flame, turning frequently, or in a broiler until the skin is blackened but not charred. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for a few minutes. The trapped steam will loosen the skin.
For roasted garlic puree, place a whole head of garlic in a small baking cup. Sprinkle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until soft. Cut top off the head and squeeze the pulp out of each clove.
Whole roasted garlic heads may be served as an appetizer, accompanied by crusty bread and butter.
Herbes de Provence, available at most supermarkets, is a mix of dried herbs, often including basil, fennel seed, marjoram,
rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender.
Cold smoked tomato soup
Serves six to eight.
20 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped bacon
5 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
5 red onions, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 cups chicken stock, or water
1/2 cup orange juice
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste
2 yellow bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
1/2 tablespoon roasted garlic puree
1/2 cup sour cream
Halve, core and seed the tomatoes. Cover a smoker rack with aluminum foil, then use the sharp tip of a knife to poke holes in the foil (to allow the smoke through). Place tomatoes on the rack, cut side up, and smoke for 15 to 25 minutes. They should only be slightly warmed by the smoke, not cooked.
Saute bacon in a large skillet until crisp.
Add roasted red bell peppers, jalapenos, onions, carrot, celery, garlic and herbes de Provence. Saute on low heat for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent.
Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add tomatoes and remove from heat. Add orange juice, then puree in food processor or blender. Strain and add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill thoroughly.
Process the yellow bell peppers with garlic puree until smooth. Add sour cream and blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste and chill.
At serving time, pour soup into chilled bowls. Using a plastic squeeze bottle or a spoon, drizzle some of the yellow bell pepper mixture over each. Serve immediately.