This dish is best made with heirloom tomatoes found at your local farmer’s market. Prepare it rustic and chunky, or puree until smooth for a more elegant presentation. It is well worth the extra time to grill the vegetables, as they add a smoky twist to this classic dish. Serve it with some grilled shrimp, crusty bread, and a crisp sauvignon blanc for a late summer picnic with friends.
—Christa Chialtas Gault
4 to 6
4 - 6
large heirloom tomatoes
large sweet red pepper- halved and seeded
zucchini - halved horizontally
large shallots - peeled and halved
cherry tomatoes (preferably heirloom)
large english cucumber - peeled, seeded and diced
large avocado - halved and sliced
large lemon - zested and juiced, reserve 1 tablespoon juice
Brush heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, red pepper and shallots with olive oil, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill the tomatoes and red peppers for 10 minutes over medium heat and the zucchini and shallots for 5 minutes. Remove them from grill and let them cool slightly.
Place vegetable mixture, reserving one grilled zucchini into the blender or food processor and pulse until desired texture is reached. I typically prefer mine chunky, which requires about 5 - 6 pulses. Pour the mixture into a large non-reactive bowl.
Combine the cherry tomatoes with the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar and the lemon juice in the blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture into the bowl and combine with the grilled vegetables. Fold in the diced cucumber and diced zucchini to the soup.
Chill the soup for 4 - 6 hours or overnight. The flavors will become stronger as the soup is allowed to sit. Season with salt and pepper to taste before plating and serving.
Brush the reserved lemon juice and remaining olive oil onto the avocado slices, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill the avocado for about 4 minutes. Allow avocado to cool and dice into 1-inch pieces.
Serve in bowls topped with grilled avocado, lemon zest and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. If desired, finish with smoked sea salt.