I make extra batches of Grilled Fresh Tomato Soup to keep in the freezer and invoke a hint of summer when the winter blahs set in. Grilling peak season tomatoes give the soup a sweet, smoky and concentrated flavor. I ditch standard tomato prep to retain the bulk of the flavor and nutrients concentrated in the skin, seed and pulp. A blender still makes a charmingly smooth country soup. Super healthy carotenoids also help transform fresh red tomatoes into a strikingly lovely orange soup. Garlic Croutons add a crunchy flavor pop but are not essential. —Berryer Cooks
4 as a main course and 6 as a side dish
Grilled Fresh Tomato Soup
ripe but firm tomatoes, about 4-5 large
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2" cubes bakery white bread, crust removed
Rub tomatoes with olive oil and grill over high heat until blackened in spots and slightly shriveled but still maintaining shape, about 4-5 minutes on each side.
Place grilled tomatoes in bowl and cover with plastic wrap until room temperature. Remove and discard the skin from half the tomatoes. Core and discard the stem and hard greenish part underneath all the tomatoes. Puree tomatoes until smooth and set aside.
In large saucepan over medium heat melt butter. Add onion, celery, salt and pepper and sauté while stirring occasionally until onion is soft and translucent but not yet brown; about 7-10 minutes.
Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until just fragrant; about a minute more.
Add pureed grilled tomatoes and water. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer on low heat for an hour. Remove from heat and cool.
Puree soup in blender with basil until smooth. Add salt and water as needed for flavor and texture.
Reheat and serve warm with garlic croutons (if desired).
Store soup in refrigerator for 3-4 days or in freezer for up to 6 months.
Heat oven to 300 degrees
Gently mix bread, salt, black pepper, garlic and olive oil with your hands until bread is well coated with all ingredients.
Place croutons on parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet.
Bake until croutons are crisp and slightly brown, about 20-30 minutes depending on the bread used.
Store croutons in closed container for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the freezer.