We make a lot of soup in our house…hot, cold, creamy, chunky…but always super fresh. Probably one of the best soups I have made….and I make a lot of soup…came from the use of super (super) fresh ingredients we were given from our pal, Raymond Kawamata, who we call the Tomato King of the Big Island of Hawaii. We had visited him at his farm on our second Saturday trip to the Waimea Farmer’s Market. Raymond and his wife were joining us for dinner that night and I wanted to make sure to make something with his tomatoes that would show my respect to his beautiful products, and hopefully taste unlike some of the tomato soups he had had before.
Additionally, I was inspired by my favorite bite I had during my recent trip to Spain to make Cava with Segura Viudas, Chef Charles Abellan’s Bikini Sandwich…a crispy, creamy combination of fresh mozzarella cheese, Iberico ham and shaved black truffle on buttered white bread and grilled to tasty perfection. Oh….it really didn’t get any better than that. I think I had two whole sandwiches our last night in Barcelona, paired with a berry and spice filled Aria Pinot Noir Cava. Simply divine…
Starting early in the day I was able to marinate then roast Raymond’s beautiful beefsteak tomatoes, along with a huge red pepper that added a perfect touch of sweetness to the soup, along with the caramelized fennel bulb, and a few teaspoons of sweet paprika and touch of cinnamon.
I had to improvise on the Bikini, finding only a white truffle paste instead of black truffles, and Serrano ham instead of the decadent Iberico, but the overall flavor was spot on, pairing well with the soup. I have never made grilled cheese sandwiches with mozzarella…or truffles…man…I have been missing out. A wonderful and delicious way to celebrate the start of a great night with friends.
Kawamata Farms Roasted Tomato Soup with Bikini Sandwiches
Ingredients, for 8 first course servings:
For the soup –
4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, core removed and cut into quarters
1 large red pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar + 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
1 large white or red onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
5 large sundried tomato halves, rehydrated in hot water
2 cloves + 1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper (start with 2 teaspoons of each, then to taste)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup tomato juice or bloody mary mix
4 cups vegetable stock (use veggie instead of chicken…it helps the rich tomato and pepper flavors really pop. If you can’t find veggie stock, try just using water, maybe with a bit more wine and balsamic, maybe a few extra carrots and celery stalks, and really taste to adjust your seasoning to make sure the soup has lots of flavor.)
1/2 cup cream, optional
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped (about 4 or 5 tablespoons…the basil really brings out the fresh flavors and enhances the tomatoes beautifully) + 1 tablespoon for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
For the Bikini (for 8) –
8 slices white bread, crusts removed
4 – 8 slices Serrano ham (as noted, Iberico is best, if can’t find either you could use prochiutto, though the Spanish might kill you…
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
2 ounces black truffle – paste, spread or fresh…or, if you can’t find black, white truffle is beautiful as well, the flavor is a bit softer so the big punch of truffle isn’t as pronounced, but it is still delicious.
Touch of black truffle oil
Salt and pepper
For the soup – marinate the tomatoes and pepper in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons balsamic, 1 clove garlic, the red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon olive oil and a dash of white wine, salt and pepper for about half an hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the tomatoes and peppers out on a baking pan, pour the marinade over them. Roast for about 40-45 minutes, turning the veggies a few times to make sure nothings gets too charred. The tomato peels will start to come off; you can remove, or not as they will be purred smooth when blended. Meanwhile add the fennel, onion and carrots to a large pot over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining balsamic. Stirring often, cook until the veggies have softened and started to caramelize. Add the garlic, lemon juice and zest, white wine and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, melding the flavors together. When the tomatoes and pepper are nice and roasted add them, with any remaining liquid, to the pot, stirring to incorporate. Season with the paprika and cinnamon, stirring well. Add the sundried tomatoes with the water they were rehydrated in and the stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 30 minutes, adding the basil and cilantro with about 10 minutes left. The longer you simmer the more concentrated and sweet the soup will become. After the soup has simmered use an immersion or regular blender and blend the soup until smooth. Pour back in the pot and add the cream, if desired, whisking to incorporate. Keep the soup on a low simmer until ready to serve.
To serve, ladle big scoops into your soup bowl, garnish with a bit more basil and pair with 1/2 of a Bikini. (We had a left over bo of this cold the next day also and it was just as good…so serve hot or cold, whichever you prefer.)
To make the Bikini –
Spread a layer of truffle on each slice of bread. Cover 4 of the pieces of bread with the single or double layered slice of ham, then add a tiny (tiny) bit of truffle oil to the ham and spread it to cover. Then top the ham and truffle with 1 ounce of fresh mozzarella cheese, making sure to cover the whole sandwich. Top the cheese with piece of bread. Spread a bit of softened butter on the outside of each slice of white bread. Heat a skillet to medium heat and add a bit more butter. Grill each side until it is golden brown and the cheese has started to melt. When complete cut in half and serve 1/2 with each bowl of soup. Or cut in quarters and serve with 1/4 on opposite sides of the rim of a soup bowl.