Cold Tomato Soups: Chill Thrills

Kentucky Tomato Treasure

Kentucky Tomato Treasure

Nope - not gazpacho. That's a scary summer soup. When others serve it, I sometimes have to strengthen my resolve and simply eat some of whatever happened in their kitchens. Gazpachos are often too something. Too raw onion-y, too peppery, too acrid, too raw-tasting, too texturally icky.

The 2010 Tomato Avalanche may threaten to bury us all, but put a cool finger on your blender and prepare to reduce some tomatoes to a pulp while keeping full control over how the resulting soups taste and feel.

The good options begin with a soup a friend described as we baked in the waiting area before marching in Lexington's July 4 parade. I couldn't help but wish some of the kind people coming around with plastic bottles of water would say instead, "Chilled Marinated Heirloom Tomato Soup for you, ma'am?"

My friend sent me the recipe and source. (Thank you, DC.) I'll share those with you, and follow with a few links to more cool tomato soups.

Marinated Heirloom Tomato Soup


Vegetable Harvest: Vegetables at the Center of the Plate


Patricia Wells

1-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered (do not peel)

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon celery salt

1 teaspoon ground piment d'Espelette or dried Anaheim chili

(or ground mild chili pepper)

2 tablespoons best-quality sherry-wine vinegar

(red wine vinegar works)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

20 fresh basil leaves

Combine all the ingredients with 1-2/3 cups water in a food processor or a blender and purée to a smooth liquid. Taste for seasoning. The soup can be served immediately, but the flavors will benefit from ripening for 3 to 24 hours, refrigerated. At serving time, reblend the soup. Serve in chilled soup bowls. Serves 4 (large bowls) or 8 (small cups).

Rona's note: I tried this delicious, thick (!) soup as recommended, with the tomato skins and seeds included, but reduced to a finer texture by the blender. I also tried forcing some of the soup through a medium sieve to remove some of the seeds and fibers. I liked it sieved best, but not enough to do the relatively hard work required for a regular meal. Perhaps if I were cooking for friends, I might sieve-and-serve.

A neighbor told me recently she finds the whole notion of cold soups...chilling. Just flat wrong. She said perhaps a new label is needed, something like "cooler," something more likely to be drunk from a glass than eaten with a spoon. That's the notion behind this Spiced Tomato Cooler, intended to be served in a glass and sipped.

A friend told me about The Wednesday Chef, Luisa Weiss's blog devoted to descriptions of dishes she prepares from recipes she clipped from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times across more than a decade. (Thank you, JS.)

Weiss lives in Berlin, which had its own heat wave recently, so Weiss gave a thought to cooking a 1991 Barbara Kakfa recipe for chilled Moroccan Tomato Soup. Being an excellent, experienced home cook of the "use what's available" persuasion, Weiss made a somewhat different soup, which also sounds delicious. More than that, she makes the point I also like to make:  "Some days, a recipe is just there for inspiration."

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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is number 35.