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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grilled Tomato Soup with Garlic Hummus and Veggie Sandwich

We all have those times when we make something so good that hits the g-spot of our taste buds. This time it wasn't a chocolate dessert or some molecular gastronomy creation, but rather basic grilled veggies. Yes!

Using simple ingredients is often overlooked. But simple ingredients allow for the true flavor of the ingredient to shine through.

Hands down my favorite soup of all time is this Grilled Tomato Soup. It's one of the rare recipes that is not my creation; this one came from the Joy of Cooking recipe book and it just can't be beat. I haven't actually looked up the recipe in some years, but I'm pretty sure the below is close; if nothing else- my version is amazing! The smoky grill flavor mixes so nicely with the sweet balsamic- it's a tomato explosion in your mouth!

Food doesn't always have to be fancy to be good.  Try this fat and happy grilled soup and sandwich before all the superb home grown vegetables are gone. I think you'll be delightfully satisfied with how intoxicating this is.

Tips and Techniques:  Remember to peel off the tomato skin after grilling, it should slide right off.  Serve the soup in a shallow plate for pretty presentation. My option for the sandwich bread was an an olive loaf bread, the extra hint of salt from the olives was a perfect pairing. Choose any good artisan bread, just don't use loaf sandwich bread. Makes four servings.

Grilled Tomato Soup with Garlic Hummus and Veggie Sandwich

Grilled Tomato Soup
4 large tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cups of water, broth or wine
2 tbls balsamic vinegar
1/2 lemon

Preheat the grill.  Cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil.  Cut the small onion in quarters, push each quarter through a metal barbecue skewer to keep all the pieces together.  Cut the shallot in half, add to the skewer along with the garlic cloves. Drizzle the skewer with olive oil and a few turns of fresh black pepper.

Place the tomatoes on the grill, cut side down, and the onion skewer.  Grill until the tomatoes begin to soften and have definitive grill marks, about 4-6 minutes per side depending on their ripeness. Turn and grill on the second side, remove from gill and set aside. Turn the onions as each side begins to have charred edges, until all side are nicely grilled and softened.

Rough chop the onions, shallot and garlic, toss in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  Saute about 5 minutes to fully finish softening the onions.  Add in 1/2 cup of water and the tomatoes, smash them with a wooden spoon. Simmer a few minutes to combine the flavors.

Use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients into a soup (or carefully use a blender).  Don't over blend, just pulse the ingredients together. All a little more liquid for a runnier soup if desired. Simmer the soup for a few minutes then remove from heat.

Add the lemon juice and balsamic and a little salt and pepper to taste. Salt as needed.  Serve warm or cold; I prefer this soup at room temperature for the best flavor.

Garlic Hummus and Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Garlic Hummus
1 can chickpeas
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large radishes, chopped
1 tsp sesame chili oil
1 tsp sesame oil
up to 1/4 cup olive oil
up to 1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbl lemon juice

Add all the ingredients from chickpeas through the sesame oil to a mini Cuisinart or blender.  Pulse to chop and combine; slowly drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the hummus begins to blend nicely.  Finish by adding a few tablespoons of water until desired consistency is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon into a bowl and squeeze 1/2 of a fresh lemon over the top.

Grilled Zucchini, Squash, Shallots and Garlic

1 zucchini
1 yellow neck squash
1 tomato
2 large shallots
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbls fresh thyme, pinched from stem
Handful of fresh thyme stems

Using a mandolin, carefully slice the zucchini, squash and shallots to medium thickness so they can stand up to the grill (and the bread and the soup!) You can do this by hand- try to make all slices the same size.

Dice up the garlic cloves and toss with the sliced veggies.  Heavily drizzle and toss all with olive oil, lots of fresh ground black pepper and the fresh thyme.  Let the veggies rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Grill veggies on each side until grill marks form; I like to grill them on fast over high heat so that they still have a little bite to them and do not turn to mush. Remove from gill, add a few more turns of fresh ground black pepper (salt if needed.)

Assembling the Garlic Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

1 loaf artisan bread (choose a good bread, do not put this on sandwich bread)

Cut bread into 4 inch pieces lengthwise, and then in half to open the soft bread. Brush the soft bread insides with olive oil and grill for about 3 minutes. Remove from grill.

Spread the garlic hummus on one side of the bread, layer on a few slices of the grilled squash, zucchini and tomato.  Cover with the top half of the bread.  Serve with the grilled tomato soup.

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