My brain feels like it is slowly braising in a crock pot. The Pacific Northwest has been in the sweaty grip of a record-breaking heatwave. Blah. My least favorite kind of weather. I’ll take months of rainy darkness over a blast-furnace any day … but anyway … one must still eat, and the tomatoes at the farmers’ market are voluptuous! This is the time of year when you really don’t need much more than garden fresh veggies and fruits, prepared simply. Here in my tiny apartment in the concrete jungle I’m dreaming of a grill as much as I’m dreaming of a freezing lake or ocean plunge…
This week’s recipe works best with an outdoor grill, but you can make due with a burner on your stove (I did). It is a simple, delicious fresh soup of grilled summer veggies pureed in a blender with fresh herbs. It manages to be light, substantial and has all the virtues of cooked veggies vs. raw (see my post on Chinese medicine and raw veggies two weeks back!) — while retaining that fresh-from-the-garden vibe that we all love. Many traditional recipes for this kind of summer soup blend in slices of stale bread for substance, but I added cauliflower, and the effect is much the same, while getting yet one more vegetable in there! Another great option instead of the cauliflower is to grill an eggplant, scoop out the insides, and add that. YUM!
So many luscious fresh herbs on Portland’s sidewalks right now. I was photographing some gorgeous oregano this week, when a voice from a shady porch called out, “You can have some if you want…” Many thanks! Into the soup it went…
Splendid Grilled Veggie Summer Soup:
- 2 lbs. tomatoes
- 3 large red or orange bell peppers
- 1 jalapeno (optional)
- as many cloves of garlic as you like!
- 1 large onion
- 1 small cauliflower (optional)
- 1 quart or more broth of your choice
- several cups fresh herbs (basil, mint, cilantro, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, rosemary … )
- balsamic vinegar
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
If you have a grill, put the peppers and tomatoes on until lightly charred and soft. Saute the garlic cloves and chopped onion in a bit of olive oil til soft; if you’re using the cauliflower, chop roughly and saute with garlic. Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar and another few of water or white wine, cover and let the cauliflower soften til just tender. (If you’re using your stove top, you can get the peppers done perfectly this way, but the tomatoes will fall apart if you leave them on a burner too long. So once they’re just a little charred, toss them into the covered skillet with the cauliflower and allow to soften.)
Next, put everything into a blender with broth and puree. If you’re using the cauliflower, you will definitely have to do this in two batches, then pour into a pot and mix together with a big spoon. Now add lemon juice, more vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. To serve, garnish with more fresh herbs. For added protein I will sometimes open a can of chickpeas and throw some in — or I make my famous tempeh “croutons” … stay tuned for how to make those in a future post … and stay cool!!