The fruits complement each other nicely, yet each flavor remains distinct. Although this was created as a dessert, it could be served as a refreshing first course.
Yield: Makes about 3 cups
- 2 large (about 2 pounds) heirloom tomatoes, preferably Brandywine
- 1 pound strawberries, at room temperature, rinsed and hulled
- 1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 large basil leaves, half of them coarsely chopped, plus a few for garnish
- 1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste, preferably concentrated and from a tube
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/3 cups water
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes
Score a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato and gently drop them in the water. Wait 30 seconds, then transfer them to the ice-water bath. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skins. Core the tomatoes and cut them into large chunks, dropping half of them into a blender as you work. Reserve the remaining chunks for the garnish.
Add the strawberries to the blender, cutting the larger ones in chunks as you go; reserve 1/2 cup of them for the garnish. Add the oil, the 6 whole basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, sugar to taste, water and pepper to taste. Puree for 2 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
When ready to serve, cut the remaining tomatoes into large dice, then toss with the chopped basil. Cut the remaining strawberries into thin slices.
Divide the chilled soup among small dessert bowls. Gently add the whole basil leaves for garnish, tomatoes and strawberries to the top of each portion. Serve at room temperature.
From chef Gérard Pangaud of the Blue Rock Inn in Washington, Va.
Tested by Edward A. Lichorat.
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