Juicy, sweet and slightly acidic, a perfectly ripe tomato is worth the wait. But it’s not easy, especially because here in Minnesota they won’t hit our farmers markets until late summer. In my garden, I won’t have any ready to pick until sometime near the end July or early August.
In March, April and even May, I have all the patience in the world. I can wait, right? Summer will fly by (unfortunately) and I’ll be slicing a red Brandywine tomato, still warm from the sun, before I know it.
That feeling lasts until June. Then I can feel the sunshine and I’m ready to taste it, too. Fortunately, I can almost always rely on cherry tomatoes to deliver that taste, no matter what time of year it is.
Rather than do what I typically do — cut them in half for a salad topping or just sprinkle them with a little sea salt and pop them in my mouth — an unusually hot day inspired me to use them in a cold soup.
If you think I’m referring to gazpacho, the famous cold Spanish tomato soup, you’d be close. I decided to tweak my favorite recipe for this iconic chilled soup to create my favorite summer salad, Caprese, in liquid form. And it couldn’t be easier to do.
Yes, this soup needs a few hours to chill and let the flavors blend, but it comes together quickly. You simply need to find a few minutes to toss a couple of packages of cherry tomatoes and a few other ingredients likely on hand into the blender. Process it for a minute and pop the mixture into the fridge to let the flavors meld before you go about the rest of your day.
When dinnertime rolls around, brown some bread cubes in olive oil in the oven, reduce a little balsamic vinegar until it becomes thick and syrupy, and cut up some fresh mozzarella.
Next, pour some of the soup into a bowl, top it with a dollop of pesto, a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a small handful of croutons and cheese cubes. Your sophisticated, refreshing, summery dinner is ready to serve.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.
Cold Caprese Soup
Note: Cherry tomatoes, sweet almost any time of year, make this light, refreshing fruit taste like the end of summer. Be sure to taste the soup for seasoning after it’s chilled. The flavors may be muted in the chilling process and you may want to add a touch more salt or vinegar before serving. From Meredith Deeds.
• 2 lb. cherry tomatoes or very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
• 1 small sweet onion (such as Texas Sweet, Vidalia, etc.), roughly chopped
• 1 garlic clove
• 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
• 1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 c. small cubes Italian bread
• 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 c. pesto (store-bought or homemade)
• 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the blender. Purée until very smooth. With the motor running, add the sherry vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil.
Chill soup in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. If the soup is too thick, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
While the soup is chilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss cubed bread with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in 1 layer and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool croutons in pan on a rack.
Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil. Continue cooking for 2 to 4 minutes, until the vinegar is slightly thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat. (If your vinegar has gotten too thick, just stir in a teaspoon or two of water.)
When you’re ready to serve, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with more salt and/or vinegar, if necessary. Divide into serving bowls, dollop a small spoonful of pesto on top of the soup and use the tip of a knife to swirl it around. Drizzle a little of the reduced balsamic over the top and garnish with mozzarella and croutons.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 320 Fat 24 g
Sodium 800 mg Carbohydrates 20 g
Saturated fat 6 g Added sugars 1 g
Protein 8 g Cholesterol 20 mg
Dietary fiber 2 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 carb, 1 medium-fat protein, 3 ½ fat.