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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tomato/Tomatoe: Cilantro-Flecked Heirloom Tomato Soup!

After a thoroughly educational experience, I am back from the Society of Wine Educators Conference I attended in Providence, Rhode Island last week. They had to pour me onto the plane, but I made it home nonetheless!

The theme of this year's conference was "A Food and Wine Experience" and consisted of three full days of intensive seminars, many of which focused on the pairing of wine with food - what's not to love about that? It was difficult to select from all the fabulous seminar topics and the caliber of the speakers was truly impressive, as was the humidity level which remained under 100% the entire time! My brain is abuzz with all kinds of fun wine and food facts that I look forward to sharing with you in the coming weeks.

This week, I'm emerging from my wine-induced haze with the second tomato recipe I promised you. I discovered this one in Patricia Wells' latest book "Salad as a Meal." Her recipe for Cilantro-Flecked Heirloom Tomato Soup is very much like a gazpacho and is surprisingly flavorful and easy to make. All you need is a blender and the 6 (yes, count 'em 6) ingredients. You can realistically be enjoying a bowl in under 10 minutes, although she recommends letting the soup sit for 3-24 hours to let the flavors meld. 

As for preparation, I have to admit, I could not find piment d'Espelette locally and used ground red pepper instead with delicious results. Also, in the interest of aesthetics, when selecting the heirloom tomatoes, be sure to use those that are very ripe and do not mix too many colors or your will end up with a murky or brownish looking soup. Otherwise, this dish is a light and delicious way to begin a meal or to keep in the fridge as a healthy snack!

This recipe utilizes the heirloom tomato (aka heritage tomato in the UK), which, according to Wikipedia, is an open-pollinated (non-hybrid) heirloom cultivar of tomato. Heirloom tomatoes can be found in a wide variety of beautiful colors, shapes, flavors and sizes. As with most garden plants, cultivars can be acclimated over several gardening seasons to thrive in a geographical location through careful selection and seed saving. They usually have fun and interesting names like Big Rainbow, Green Zebra, Hillbilly, Striped German and Brandywine, just to name a few. With their delightful flavor, texture and colors, I usually serve them as a simple tomato salad drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar in order to let them shine. This soup, however, really allows their flavor and color to come through and is a lovely alternative.

I hope you enjoy this soup and I'd love to hear what you think of it. Are you an heirloom tomato fan or have you ever grown them? If so, what is your favorite kind? I am partial to the Green Zebras - yum!


Cilantro-Flecked Heirloom Tomato Soup
from "Salad as a Meal" by Patricia Wells
1 1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and quartered (do not peel)
1/2 cup imported Italian tomato paste
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground piment d'Espelette or other ground mild chile pepper
2 tablespoons best-quality sherry-wine vinegar
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish (I use a variety of cilantro called Delfino)

Combine all the ingredients, except the extra cilantro leaves, in a blender or a food processor. Add 1 2/3 cups water and puree to a smooth liquid. Taste for seasoning. The soup can be served immediately, but the flavors benefit from ripening for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours, refrigerated. Serve in chilled shallow soup bowls, garnished with cilantro leaves. (Store without garnish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reblend at serving time.) Serves 12


  1. I'm having a ball this morning with the wonderful submissions I'm finding on blogspot. I suppose I might need to find some fresh standard tomatoes from a simple $ consideration, but I think the prospects are still very good for this soup.

  2. I just read about this new book of Patricia Wells recently. It sounds like a wonderful book and a delicious soup!


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