Most people return from vacations with poignant souvenirs and well-earned tans, but I can safely say I came back from the beach in North Carolina with neither. What I did lug back in my car was about a half bushel of glorious tomatoes.
We in the Midwest are still weeks away from prime tomato season, but in the South they are plump, ripe, and ready to go. My only worry as I crossed half the country was that I needed to find some recipes fast before all those tomatoes started to decompose.
Luckily, I had saved Loudes Castro's fresh tomato soup from Cooking with Les Dames D'Escoffier for when the time was right. Don't let the influential French chef's name fool you; this is a Mexican-style soup, which proves that there are more cold tomato soup options than just gazpacho.
The tomatoes are pureed with olive oil and red wine vinegar until very smooth. It's an elegant base, but this soup really comes alive with the addition of a roasted corn guacamole. Spooned right into the center of the bowl, the warm corn mixes with the cool soup, making for a dynamic dish.
- For the Fresh Tomato Soup
- 2 pounds tomatoes, stemmed and cut into quarters
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 grinds black pepper
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- For the Roasted Corn Guacamole
- 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about two corn cobs)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about one lime)
- 1 teaspoon jalapeno, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 1 large avocado, coarsely chopped
For the fresh tomato soup: Add the tomatoes to a food processor or blender, and process until very smooth. While still running, slowly drizzle in the ¼ cup of olive oil. Once the mixture has emulsified, drizzle in the vinegar. Pour the mixture into a bowl, and season with the salt and pepper. Stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and stash in the fridge until cool.
For the roasted corn guacamole: While the soup is chilling, adjust rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 400°. Cover a large baking sheet with foil, and then spread the corn kernels out on it. Drizzle the corn with the olive oil and then season with salt and a few cracks of pepper. When oven is ready, transfer the sheet to oven and cook until corn is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the red onion, cilantro, fresh lime juice, jalapeno, and avocado in a medium-sized bowl. When corn is ready, add it to the bowl, and gently toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle 1 ½ cups of the fresh tomato soup into four bowls. Add a mound of the corn guacamole to each, and garnish with the cilantro leaves.