As the midday temperatures soar here in Thailand more ideas for refreshing chilled soups are the order of the day. Practically speaking, it just makes sense to have meal preparations out of the way in the morning, avoiding the heat of the day, and having the evening meal nearly ready for serving as night falls and the temperature wanes enough for comfortable suppers al fresco.
The pairing of vine ripe tomatoes and Italian basil, both readily available at the moment, inspires looking towards the Mediterranean for ideas for chilled soups that that are both light and summery fresh.
Roasting the tomatoes and peppers sweetens their flesh and infuses this chilled soup with a light smokiness accented with the peppery and sweet aromatic spiciness of fresh basil. Add to that a swirl of freshly made pesto and a few dollops of Greek yogurt and you have a stellar beginning for a light summer meal.
Chilled Roasted Tomato Soup makes 2 1/2 quarts
- 4 pounds/2 kilo vine ripe tomatoes, roasted
- 2 large red bell peppers, roasted
- 1 or 2 small dried red chilies
- 2 heads garlic
- 2 onions, peeled and diced
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 quarts chicken broth (or water), hot
- ½ cup toasted bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon flaked sea salt
- 20 fresh Italian basil leaves, thinly sliced
- sweet Italian basil pesto (see recipe here)
- Greek yogurt or sour cream
- whole Italian basil leaves for garnishing
Remove the stems from the tomatoes and the red bell peppers and flame roast, grill, or broil them until well charred. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle remove the charred skin and discard it. You need not be too meticulous about removing every last bit of charred skin as bits left behind will add flavor to the soup.
Slice the tomatoes into quarters and remove any hard core bits and discard them. Transfer the tomatoes to a food mill or Velox Universal tomato press (see note below) and pass them through to remove the seeds and crush the tomatoes into pulp in the process. Set the pulp aside to use later.
Likewise remove the charred skin from the bell peppers and discard. Quarter the bell peppers and remove the veins and seeds. Cut the quarters into strips. Dice the strips and set aside.
Lightly toast the chilies in a dry pan. Then add a little water to the pan, bring to a simmer, and cook until the chilies are soft. Remove the chilies and cool. Then slit the chilies lengthwise, open them up, and remove the seeds and discard them. Finely chop the chilies and set aside.
Separate the garlic cloves from the head and put them in a dry skillet set over medium flame. Toast the cloves on all sides until evenly colored. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Then peel off the skin and discard. Mince the cloves and set aside.
Place a soup pot on the stove over medium low heat and add the olive oil. When nearly smoking add the onions and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Make a well in the center of the pot and add the tomato paste and press it against the bottom of the pan to caramelize the tomato paste.
Add the tomato pulp, bell peppers, and chilies and cook another couple of minutes while stirring everything together. Then stir in the hot stock (or water) and stir. Raise the heat and bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and cook 25 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface of the soup while simmering and discard. Then stir in the bread crumbs and salt and cook another 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool a couple of minutes. Then blend the soup with an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender) and blend until smooth.
Return the pot of blended soup to the heat and bring back up to a low simmer. Add the sliced basil leaves and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Transfer the hot soup to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Then transfer the soup to containers with lids and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Ladle the soup into individual soup bowls. Add a few dollops of pesto in the center, a few dollops of Greek yogurt or sour cream, and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Note: The Velox tomato press is a must have tool if you are regularly processing fresh tomatoes. Passing the fresh tomatoes through the press removes the skin and seeds leaving you with a fresh tomato pulp that is ready for making red tomato sauces, soups, or fresh salsas. I’ve had my Velox tomato press for over 30 years which is a testament to its timeless design and durability. Readily available on line and well worth the small investment.