How to make it

  • 1) Prepare 3 handfuls of wood chips, hickory might be best, by soaking them for ½ hour to an hour.
  • 2) Smoke 4 lbs of ripe tomatoes. Rinse them and spray with olive oil spray. Place the tomatoes in a grill basket. It is easiest if it is one that can be turned. Otherwise, the tomatoes will have to be turned by hand. Add half the soaked wood chips and wait a moment for them to begin to smoke. Over a moderate fire use direct heat. If the fire is hot, use indirect heat. Roast the tomatoes checking to see when the bottoms begin to blacken. When they have, remove the basket and grate. Add the rest of the wood chips. Turn the tomatoes or basket. Roast until done on the other side. The tomatoes should be soft and thoroughly cooked through. This process will take 10-20 minutes depending on the heat of the fire. The secret is to make sure they get smoke without burning up. They can be covered and used 1 or 2 days later.
  • 3) Start the soup by sautéing 2 chopped onions in olive oil in a heavy soup pot until soft.
  • 4) Add the tomatoes, cut in half, with the tomato juice that has accumulated, 3 bay leaves and 2 T. crushed garlic. Cook together about 10 minutes over moderate heat.
  • 5) Add ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, 1 t. crushed red pepper, 1 ½ t. cinnamon, and 1 6 oz can tomato paste. Cook a few minutes until it becomes fragrant.
  • 6) Slowly add ¼ cup of flour, stirring to make sure there are no lumps.
  • 7) Add 1 cup cream sherry and 5 cups chicken broth (I like free range for humanitarian reasons. And happy chickens probably make better broth.). Adjust the soup with salt, and sugar or sweetener. It may need 3 T. of sugar or more, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • 8) Simmer uncovered 30 minutes, stirring occasionally from the bottom to prevent sticking and burning. Adjust the seasonings.
  • 10) Cool and then puree in batches.
  • 11) Prepare basil oil. In a saucepan, heat ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil. Add 1 T. crushed garlic and ¾ cup basil leaves, washed, dried and chopped. The mixture will sizzle. Put heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring. The oil should be green in hue.
  • When cool puree with a hand blender.
  • 12) Serve soup hot with a drizzle of basil oil on the top.

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