Smoked Tomato Bisque

This is a great summer soup.  Though it is served hot, it’s spices and flavors have a wonderful ‘cooling’ effect

on your palette, making it great for warm summer nights.  The word ‘bisque’ has such an appeal.  Bisque.  Right away we think of flavorful thick soups, seasoned just right, garnished with little surprises that only please.  Lobster bisque: the classic.  Smoked tomato bisque:  unique, but extraordinary nonetheless.  

What is a bisque?  Without going into technical details and definitions, a bisque is any pureed soup thickened with rice.  Rice is added to the cooking soup, the rice swells and over cooks, and when the soup is pureed, the rice becomes your starchy thickener.  The consistency of a rice thickened soup is unique and cannot be replicated with other thickeners, like a roux.  Just like a chowder is any soup with potatoes and pork, bisque, by definition, is easily modified.  Puree and thicken with rice.  You can make almost anything into a bisque.

I love summer tomatoes, and I love the addition of smoke in summer foods.  Think summer bbq with tomato salads.  Make the bisque, serve with a slice of toasted French bread and garnish with fresh basil and goat cheese.  It could not be better.

Smoke Tomato Bisque

Prep time:  15 minutes
Cook time:  Total 3 hours
Yield:  1/2 gallon finished product

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, fine chop
1 leaves of basil, fine chiffonade
3 lb vine ripe tomatoes (sweeter and riper the better)
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups rich chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 yellow onion, medium chop
kosher salt
1 slice smoked bacon, diced
black pepper
1 cup long grain rice, cooked
1 bay leaf
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
1 chipotle in adobo sauce
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil (no extra virgin)
French bread
Sliced goat cheese

Method:

Smoke the tomatoes:  Score the tomatoes with a paring knife, and lightly coat with oil, salt and pepper.  Either use a cold smoker, or a wood grill.  If using a wood grill, line a baking pan with ice.  Cover the ice with plastic wrap and place the tomatoes on the wrap.  When your grill is prepared and you have added your hardwood (hickory is best for this application), place the pan with tomatoes on the grill, in the coolest and most indirect place.  Cover and slowly smoke for about 45 minutes.  Place the tomatoes in a strainer and let sit for about 1/2 an hour. This will allow the tomatoes to release excess water and cool.  You can gently squeeze them to help remove water.

Make the soup:  In a medium size stock pot, begin sweating the onions, bacon and pepper in the olive oil.  When translucent  add the garlic and all herbs except the fresh basil.  When highly fragrant, add the tomato paste and stir to evenly coat everything.  Cook for about 1 minute stirring constantly.  Add the smoked tomatoes, chicken stock, rice, and chipotle.  Cook over low heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn heat off and heat cool slightly.  Transfer everything to a blender and blend, in batches. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, using a ladle to force the soup through.  Return to a clean pot and return soup to a gentle simmer.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the cream and cook for about 10 minutes.   If it’s too thick, add a little more chicken stock.  If it’s too thin, gently simmer it until it thickens.

Ladle soup into hot bowls and garnish with the goat cheese and basil.  Serve with good French bread.

Enjoy.

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