I introduced smoked tomatoes to backyard cook Lawrence Davis at one of my cooking classes, and he developed this recipe to showcase them in a classic gazpacho, the refreshing cold Spanish summer soup. The recipe serves 8, but Lawrence says it can be doubled or tripled for a large crowd. For extra flavor and variety add corn, pitted Greek olives, or any seasonal vegetable, coarsely chopped. You can also serve some chopped hard-boiled egg or crumbled bacon on the side for guests to add at the table.
1 maple, hickory, oak, or mesquite plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour (you can use cedar, too, which makes for an unusual and delicious flavor, but a hardwood plank will impart classic barbecue taste and aroma) 4 large, ripe, firm tomatoes 1 long English cucumber 1 green bell pepper 1 yellow bell pepper 2 medium onions 2 stalks celery 6 cups | 1.5 L tomato juice 2/3 cup | 150 mL extra virgin olive oil 1/3 cup | 75 mL balsamic vinegar 2 Tbsp | 30 mL lemon juice dried or chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, rosemary, thyme, and basil, to taste (if you use dried, don’t use too much or you’ll add a bitter taste to the soup) kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Worcestershire sauce Louisiana-style hot pepper sauce
Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. (You may want to put a brick on the plank as it’s preheating. This will prevent warping so your tomatoes don’t roll off the plank.) Reduce the heat to low, place the whole, unpeeled tomatoes on the plank, cover, and cook the tomatoes for 15–30 minutes, depending how smoky and soft you want the tomatoes. The skins will split and take on a yellowish cast from the smoke. Remove the tomatoes from the plank, peel them, and coarsely chop them. Prepare and coarsely chop the remaining vegetables; combine them with the tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour in the tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Season the soup with herbs, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce to suit your taste. Refrigerate the soup several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. (Taste it after several hours and add more seasoning, if needed.) Serve the gazpacho cold, in bowls or mugs taken straight from the freezer. Have the Worcestershire and hot sauce on hand for those who want to spice it up! Alternative method: You can smoke tomatoes very easily in a water smoker or barbecue pit, although it’s most convenient if you’re about to barbecue something else. It’s hard to justify getting a smoker going for a half hour cooking job.
Smoked Onion Soup
Makes 6 servings
So you've just successfully smoked some ribs or a brisket. Take advantage of the fact that your smoker is chugging away to smoke some onions for later use. The flavor of this soup, which was perfected by my friend Gail Norton, depends on the length of time the onions are smoked and the type of wood used (hickory for a darker, richer flavor, fruitwood like apple or cherry for a lighter, sweeter taste). The cream tends to smooth the smoke flavor, but it can be omitted.
4 large onions 3 Tbsp | 45 mL butter 1/4 cup | 50 mL olive oil 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt 2 tsp | 10 mL sugar freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 cup | 250 mL red wine 1/4 cup | 60 mL all-purpose flour 6 cups | 1.5 L warm beef broth 1 cup | 250 mL whipping cream
Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Peel and slice the onions and cut them into ¼- to 1/2-inch | 5 to 10 mm thick rounds. Smoke them using hickory or fruitwood as a flavoring agent, for about an hour, or until the onions have taken on a golden color. Remove them from the smoker and set them aside. (The onions can be smoked and frozen for several months.) Melt the butter in a large pot and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook them over medium-high heat, stirring them frequently. Brown them well (this might take up to half an hour), but be careful not to burn them. Once the onions are well caramelized, add the garlic, then turn down the heat and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes longer. Add the salt, sugar, and pepper. Add the red wine and reduce the mixture to a jam-like consistency. Add the flour, stir to incorporate it well, and begin adding the warmed beef broth, a cup at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until you can no longer taste the flour. Add the cream and heat the soup thoroughly without boiling. Serve the soup hot.