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Soups, Stews, and Chilis

Spanish Smoked Chilled Tomato Soup (Salmorejo)

My assistant, Nancy Loseke, first tasted this chilled tomato soup in Córdoba, Andalusia, on one of her olive oil scouting trips. (Nancy was one of the founders of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club, my personal source for premium EVOO.) Salmorejo acquires its velvety texture from the emulsification of bread and olive oil. Add more bread and you get a great dip for grilled bread and vegetables. Add more water and you have an intensely flavorful sauce for grilled poultry or seafood. Garnish with diced jamón Serrano and chopped or quartered hard-cooked eggs and you could serve the soup as a light entrée.


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Spanish Smoked Chilled Tomato Soup (Salmorejo)

Recipe Notes

  • Active Prep: 15 minutes plus 2 hours to chill
  • Grill Time: 15 to 20 minutes (40 minutes if using a smoker)
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Method: Smoke-roasting (indirect grilling with wood smoke)/smoking/direct grilling
  • Equipment: Best made on a charcoal grill, wood-burning grill, or smoker (if using the latter, you’ll need a grill for the ham). You’ll also need hardwood chunks or chips (unsoaked), see page 8; a disposable aluminum foil drip pan; and a wire rack.

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, stem ends removed, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced jamón Serrano or prosciutto (optional)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
  • 1/4 cup cold water, plus extra as needed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus extra to taste
  • Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 thick slices country-style bread (each slice should be about 3/4 inch thick and 4 inches wide), crusts removed, torn into several pieces
  • 2 smoked or hard-cooked eggs, peeled and roughly chopped or quartered (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Recipe Steps

1: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium-low. Alternatively, set up your smoker to 250°F.

2: Place the tomatoes, cut sides up, and garlic in an aluminum foil drip pan on the grill grate away from the heat. If enhancing a charcoal fire, add the wood chunks or chips to the coals; if enhancing a gas fire, place the chunks or chips in your grill’s smoker box or place chunks under the grate directly over one or more burners. Close the lid and cook until the tomatoes are bronzed with smoke, but still raw in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. If using a smoker, smoke the tomatoes and garlic low and slow, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a wire rack to cool.

3: Meanwhile, lightly brush the jamón Serrano (if using) with olive oil. Place it in a single layer directly over the fire and grill until the jamón Serrano is sizzling and browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the wire rack. The jamón Serrano will crisp as it cools. Set aside. If you don’t use it right away, store in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator, but let it warm to room temperature before serving.

4: Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch chunks and roughly chop the garlic. Place in a blender jar with the water, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Puree on high speed until the mixture is smooth. Add the bread to the tomato puree and use a wooden spoon to submerge it. Let it soften for a few minutes, then blend until smooth. With the blender running on medium speed, slowly add the olive oil, starting with 1/2 cup, until the mixture is the consistency of thin mayonnaise. Correct the seasoning, adding vinegar or salt to taste: The soup should be highly seasoned. If the soup is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of cold water.

5: Chill the soup, covered, for at least two hours, or as long as overnight.

6: Ladle or pour the salmorejo into four shallow soup bowls. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with the grilled jamón Serrano (if using) or crumble it over each serving and sprinkle with the smoked or hard-cooked eggs (if using) and chives.

Note:: For the smoothest texture, you could strain the soup through a chinois or run it through a food mill, discarding any tomato seeds or skin before you chill it. I never bother with this.

Recipe Tips

Because there are only five key ingredients in this velvety soup, the quality of each is critically important. Luscious ripe red tomatoes. Artisanal bread. The best fruity olive oil you can afford—preferably Spanish. And you’re going to make these ingredients even more extraordinary by adding the most primal flavor of all: wood smoke.

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How to Grill Vegetables

Steven Raichlen offers a primer for how to grill vegetables — with lots of creative flavors and techniques — whether you’re eating main dishes that highlight vegetables, or you’re rounding out the barbecue menu with grilled garden-fresh sides.

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