It’s at times like these that I turn to my grill. While I wouldn’t bake bread in it, the gas grill does a great job of roasting things at high heat. As a bonus, the grill can impart a smokier flavor than the oven, especially if you throw in a few soaked wood chips. (Of course, you can also roast the vegetables in an oven set at 450 degrees.)
I searched the internet for recipes and found a very highly rated one from celeb chef Tyler Florence. The tomatoes, onions, and garlic are roasted first, then simmered in broth and blended together. Simple. A perusal of the comments (on most of the internet, reading the comments is only wise if you like being infuriated, but for recipe sites they can be incredibly useful) revealed a suggestion that the onions go on the bottom, followed by the garlic and then the tomatoes, to prevent anything from burning. So after firing up the grill to preheat, I arranged the ingredients as prescribed.
The recipe was delightfully simple to make, but I paused when I read the last part carefully. Half a stick of butter and 3/4 cup of cream? This soup doesn’t need that kind of richness. It’s already incredibly rich just from the concentrated intensity of the roasted vegetables. Feel free to add the dairy if you want a deeply decadent soup, but the way I’ve presented it below is lighter, still luscious, and perfect for a warm summer evening. If you use vegetable broth it’s vegan, as well.
We had the leftovers cold the next day, and I heartily recommend this as a chilled soup. It’s utterly delicious – silky and full of flavor. When Arne had his first bite, he closed his eyes and said, “This tastes like summer!” He was right.
Note: This recipe has only been tested on a gas grill with the lid down. Charcoal-grill users, if you try it on your grill, tell me how it worked!
Grill-Roasted Summer Tomato Soup
Serves: 6 Time: 60 to 75 minutes Hands-on: 20 minutes
2.5 pounds ripe tomatoes, whatever mix of big and small you have on hand
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large onion, peeled and thickly sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed with a knife to loosen the skin
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
Halved cherry tomatoes or chopped herbs, optional, for garnish
Half-and-half, cream, or plain Greek yogurt, optional, for garnish
Heat your grill so it is very hot.
Halve medium and large tomatoes. Leave cherry and grape tomatoes whole.
Drizzle a tablespoon of oil into a large metal pan that fits on your grill. (I used an 8×13 lasagna pan. The tomatoes will give off juice, so it needs to be a couple of inches deep.) Lay in the onion slices, then top with the garlic cloves – you can peel them now or after they come off the grill – and then the tomatoes cut-side down, being sure the garlic is covered. Pour the remaining olive oil over the vegetables.
Place the uncovered pan on the grill rack, lower the lid, and turn the burners to medium. You want the heat to be maintained at about 400 to 450 degrees. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes, until the tomatoes and onions are quite soft when pierced with a fork.
Pour the vegetables into a soup pot or Dutch oven. (Peel the garlic now if you didn’t before.) Add the broth and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cook at a medium boil for about 15 minutes, until the broth is reduced by a third or so.
Let cool slightly, remove the bay leaf, then transfer to a blender – you may need to do this in batches – and puree. For a very suave soup, press through a strainer, but you’ll lose a lot of volume. I personally like to have a little texture (and besides, it’s a lot easier not to strain it). Taste and add salt if needed.
If serving hot, return to the pot and heat until the temperature you want. This is good hot, room temperature, or chilled. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes, chopped herbs, and/or a drizzle of cream or a spoonful of Greek yogurt, if desired.