This flavorful soup is made with tomatoes, onions, and garlic, grilled over charcoal to add a deep, smoky background.
The air cooled over the weekend to perfect weather and I used every possible excuse to be outside. Firing up the grill was at the top of the list.
When I’m looking for a new spin on any dish, I often think about transforming the vegetables by either roasting or grilling. While I often make roasted tomato dishes, the idea of grilling the tomatoes has not been part of my repertoire; I guess I figured they would fall apart and make a mess on the grill. But since I was grilling everything in sight, the tomatoes had their turn as well.
I had found a lovely basket of tomatoes at the farm stand for a really good price, and I thought it was worth a try. If it didn’t work, then I could always roast them as always.
I prepared the grill with a good cleaning and several applications of cooking oil with a paper towel. I didn’t want these babies to stick! I also brushed them with a little more oil, but I did not salt them because I did not want to encourage the loss of juice onto the coals! Since I was looking for a nice smoky flavor and I knew they wouldn’t be on the grill long, I also added some soaked wood chips to the charcoal just before cooking.
Tuck some away for winter
The smoky flavor in the soup is deep and lovely, and some snowy night, I’ll be glad for the container of it I popped in the freezer for winter.
This is a ridiculously easy dish to make, and like any tomato soup, you can serve this up any number of ways. After grilling the vegetables, put it through the food processor or food mill and serve it up. You can eat it hot or cold, and the additions of cream (dairy or plant) and cheese are always welcome in a tomato soup.
And don’t forget the grilled or toasted cheese of some sort!
Grilled Tomato Soup
5 lbs. garden fresh tomatoes
1 large sweet onion
1 head garlic
2 to 3 cups stock of choice
1/3 cup chopped basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the charcoal and spread evenly on the bottom, no heat zones needed for this one.
If using wood chips for extra smoke, soak them.
Cut out or off the stem end of the tomato; I use my paring knife to take out a little cone of stem and surrounding tough tomato. Cut them in half at the equator and place on a baking sheet or platter.
Slice the onion into three or four discs, rings in tact, and cut the head of garlic in half at the equator.
Once the charcoal is ready and the grill is nice and hot, brush the cut side of the tomatoes with a little oil and place that cut-side down on the grill and cover. Set the timer for 3 minutes, but after two, begin peeking to see how they are doing. You want grill marks and the tomatoes to start to soften, but you don’t want them to turn to mush.
When ready, turn and grill for another few minutes on the bottom side, also covered. Remove to the baking sheet.
At the same time, brush the onion rings and garlic halves with oil and place on the grill. Turn when they are softened with nice grill marks.
You can stop here, place all the vegetables and salt and pepper in the food processor or blender, puree it, add the stock, and serve it up. You can also serve this chilled (absolutely delicious) with a bit of creme fraiche dolloped in the middle of the bowl.
Or, put this through a food mill and remove all the seeds and peelings if you want a smoother soup. I didn’t bother, but some people cannot eat the seeds. The peelings are just about falling off by themselves after you let them set, so peeling would be a snap.
Of course, I think it is a law that if you have tomato soup, you need some sort of grilled cheese-like sandwich to serve with it. A favorite––baguette sliced on the diagonal and toasted with local Swiss-style cheese until it is brown and bubbly! Perfect for dunking.
Cream of Grilled Tomato Soup
Add one cup of half-and-half or plant alternative to the soup, and a little sour cream to garnish.
Grilled Tomato Cheddar Soup
Add eight ounces of grated sharp Vermont Cheddar and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to the soup, and continue to heat on simmer until melted. I won’t tell if you also add a little cream to this as well.
Grilled Tomato and Rice Soup
(I made this the next day with some left-over rice) Once made, add two cups of cooked rice to the soup. This is a great use for left-over Chinese take-out rice…
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