Cold Tomato Soup, Italian Style
Italians love summertime for entertaining and community. It is not unusual for friends to get together frequently on weekends to take a swim in someone’s pool and have an aperitivo or to get together for a “pot luck dinner” which isn’t pot luck at all, but a planned effort on everyone’s part to make either an antipasto or salad or first course, second or dessert that will complement the season. We all bring a bottle of wine and it is a beautiful way to celebrate friendship and the season.
For one of our recent dinners, Marilena Sacco, my indefatigable friend and neighbor in Castiglione del Lago made a gazpacho with shrimp. It immediately brought to mind a gazpacho that I had made when I was exploring Spanish cuisine decades ago. It is the perfect dish for serving porta via (carry out, no cooking at the last moment). All things aside, you can make it as zesty as you like.
This is a bowl of summer’s best tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers. The manner in which you do it is a matter of choice as is the ultimate texture.
I was dining “solo”, by myself and decided I wanted to recreate this dish which would serve as a complete meal. White Beans & some toasted bread cubes were added. I was pleased with the results so I am hoping you will find this a perfect summer dish “al fresco”.
SUMMER TOMATO SOUP IN ITALY
Makes 1 serving
8 san marzano fresh tomatoes cored & seeded, peel on
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
½ cup red pepper, cored seeded and coarsely chopped
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
½ red onion, peeled, coarsely chopped
75 ml tomato juice
Splash hot chili oil
One teaspoon red wine vinegar
Diced ciabatta, ½ inch cubes, toasted
2 tablespoons white beans, canned and drained
4 leaves basil, coarsely chopped
1. Coarsely chop the san marzano tomatoes after they have been seeded.
2. Place the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper, cucumber, and onion and tomato juice in the bowl of a processor. Process at high speed, using the pulse and keep it going until it looks like the contents are finely processed. It will not be completely smooth.
3. Put the puree through a strainer set over a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, push the contents until you have almost nothing left in the strainer but a few chunks of puree.
4. Add chili oil, salt, pepper, to the soup. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour or for a quick chill, in the freezer for 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet with a light coating of olive oil. When hot, add the cubed bread and white beans. Sauté moving the contents in the pan every so often for 2 minutes. At the last minute, add the basil.
Serve the soup in bowls, and add a spoonful of bread-bean mixture to the center of the soup.