Cooking with late summer flavors
In our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) class, We bring you new ideas on how to use vegetables you will find in your CSA basket or at your local farm stand. This soup, which I originally developed as a chilled soup for Fine Cooking magazine, takes advantage of the tomatoes and red peppers of the late summer harvest; the umami-rich olive emulsion adds a satisfying twist. As fall approaches (yes, I feel that chill today!), you might want to serve it hot!
Chilled Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
Serves 6 to 8
For the olive purée
1 1-inch-thick slice French baguette, crust removed
1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted
1 small clove garlic
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
For the soup
1-3/4 lb. ripe tomatoes (about 5 medium), cored and halved crosswise
1-1/3 lb. red bell peppers (3 to 4 large), halved lengthwise, cored, and seeded
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (1-1/2 Tbs.)
1 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1-inch-thick slices French baguette
Make the olive purée
Soak the bread in a small cup of water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out some of the water and put the bread in a mini food processor or a blender. Add the olives, garlic, olive oil, and 2 Tbs. water and purée until smooth, about 1 minute. (Add more water, 1 Tbs. at a time, if necessary.)
Make the soup
Position a rack 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Put the tomatoes and peppers cut side down on the baking sheet and broil until the skins are charred and the peppers are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the charred skins.
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium-low heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the garlic is pale golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the paprika and cook, swirling the pan, 1 minute more. Add 2 cups water, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and boil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes to infuse the flavors. Add the baguette slices and remove the pan from the heat.
In a blender, purée half of the broiled vegetables and any accumulated juice with half of the garlic broth, including the bread, until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
Set a medium-mesh strainer over a large bowl and force the purée through it with a silicone spatula, pressing on the solids. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup back to a simmer if serving hot or cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours, to serve chilled.
Just before serving, season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with a swirl of the olive purée.
Make Ahead Tips
The purée will keep covered at room temperature for up to 4 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
The finished soup can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days. Adjust the seasoning and garnish just before serving.