Thursday, November 4, 2010

Smoked Tomato Bisque

It makes me very sad to say that many people will never try the Smoked Tomato Bisque from The Soup Peddler's Slow and Difficult Soups.  Either they don't know about it, or they just turn the page when they see the use of a smoker in the directions.  I, however, was determined.  First, I tried to find a way around the smoking part.  I thought I could broil the tomatoes instead - blacken them on the outside and blister the tomato paste as the recipe suggests.  But one day, I mentioned my plan to some friends.  "Oh, we have a smoker."  What?  Who seriously has a smoker?  Well, my friends live in a little cottage on a horse farm, and the guy who lived there before them left a whole bunch of odd stuff behind - including a smoker.  After several scheduling conflicts, Halloween turned out to be the perfect day to use some of the very last tomatoes for Smoked Tomato Bisque and to make some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches.

I should note that this recipe should not take you 4+ hours like it did for us.  Figure out what you're doing ahead of time.  Figure out what a smoker is, that you need charcoal AND wood chips.  Figure out where you can buy those things before driving around to several different stores.  Figure out whether you need newspaper to light it up and why you don't have any in the house.  Once you've done those things, the rest is easy.  Put the tomatoes in the smoker, then chop up the onions and celery.  Start caramelizing the onions when you think the skins of the tomatoes might start to split soon.  (You can just turn off the heat if you're done too early.)  When they're done, make soup.  You could be done in much less time than we were.

The consensus at the table was that the recipe was worth the time we spent on it.  Time goes by quicker when you're with friends anyway.  The smoky flavor of the soup was amazing - it tasted like fall to me.  It was pretty strong, though, so I couldn't eat too much of it.  The recipe says it serves 6, but we ate some and each kept at least a quart - I don't know how six people could eat all of that.

The soup was great, and I hope we can make it again next year when the tomatoes come back.  Seeing how easy to use the smoker was also inspired some more smoking project ideas - including some with meat.

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