Grillin' and Chillin'

Grillin' and Chillin': that was the theme of our monthly dinner group. It really isn't a potluck. (Remember my ambivalence about potlucks from this post?) These dinners are thematic and well orchestrated, and the food is always over-the-top good
I was assigned the first course this month. Something grilled. Something chilled. Really, that is a pretty easy order, but I wanted to do something different. Something unexpected. I told them that I was bringing grilled soup.

"What!" was their first response. "How are you going to do that?" I had an idea, but I wouldn’t share it, in case it was a disaster. Luckily, it was good. I made a grilled gazpacho. I have had cooked ones, and roasted ones, so why not a grilled one?

For me, the key, as always, to a good gazpacho is having balance in flavors and textures. One unique flavor this version gives us is smoke. Grilling all the vegetables imparts a wonderful, smoky flavor that can't be achieved simply by using pimentón. Also, grilling concentrates natural sugars in the tomatoes, peppers and onions, imparting a caramelized note.

Our homemade habañera chile sauce... Hot! Hot! Hot!
The downside is that grilling also reduces the liquid in the vegetables, so I planned to restore some to the finished product. And puréeing the soup is lovely, but I missed the crunch of a chunky, raw gazpacho. I had a fix for both those issues – I added some tomato sauce for liquid, and garnished it at serving with a crispy, cool chiffonade of lettuce.

I am pretty happy with this dish, and I think you will be, too. Just in case you are curious about the rest of the menu, Barb made grilled chicken marinated in sumac, cumin, and preserved lemon, as well as lamb kabobs marinated in mint and shallots. She also put out a platter of grilled veggies from the farmers market. The J family worked together to make grilled homemade pound cake, with grilled pineapple, topped with blueberries. No one suffered from hunger!

Time to fire up the grill and "chillax," as the kids say these days.

~ David

Grilled Gazpacho

2 pounds large plum tomatoes, halved

2 very large red bell peppers (or 3 medium)
1 large red onion (or 2 medium)
1 cup tomato sauce
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 inner leaf butter lettuce, or 1 leaf romaine lettuce

Lightly brush the skin sides of the tomatoes with olive oil, and then set on a cookie sheet cut-side up. Drizzle the cut sides with olive oil so that it soaks into the nooks and crannies. Season cut sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Peel onion(s) and cut in half “around the equator” as Mark puts it. Brush the cut sides liberally with olive oil, letting it seep in between the layers. Season cut sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Trim tops and bottoms of the pepper and then cut vertically along sharpest curves, reducing each to 3 or 4 flat pieces. Drizzle with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat gas grill to medium high. When hot, place all the tomatoes on the grill, cut side up. Place onion halves off to the sides or on an upper grill shelf, cut side up. All veggies should be placed as level as possible to keep the olive oil inside. Reduce heat of the grill to medium low and close cover. Let the tomatoes and onions cook for 10 minutes, or until tomato skins are well-charred.

Remove tomatoes to a large bowl and cover. (This will loosen the skins.) Leave onions on the grill.

Raise the heat on the grill to medium high. Add peppers to the grill, skin side down, and let cook 5-8 minutes until skins are well-charred. Put charred peppers in a separate smaller bowl and cover.

Leave onions on the grill until tender. Outer layer of the onion will be completely charred and unusable, and the inner layers will swell and start rising up. When tender, remove from the grill, discard charred outer layer, and cut the each half into 4 pieces.

Place onion chunks in a blender. Gently pull the charred skins off each tomato and discard skins. Add the tomatoes to the blender. Remove charred skins from the peppers and add them to the blender, as well. Some charred bits will remain on all veggies - that is not a problem. (Too much charred skin will make the soup bitter...)

Add 1/2 cup water and the hot sauce to the blender and purée until smooth. It will still have a little texture. Pour soup into a container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. When chilled, add the tomato sauce, an additional 1 cup water, and sherry vinegar. Stir well. Soup can be served at this time, or put back in the refrigerator to continue chilling.
(Soup can be made three days in advance)

To serve, divide the soup among 6 small bowls or glasses (margarita glasses work well!). Finely slice the lettuce leaf into a chiffonade and use the shredded lettuce to garnish the soup.

Serves 6.


  1. Grilled and roasted are words that work wonderfully with vegetables. Your soup must´ve had the most amazing, deep flavor! I love gazpacho intensely, my absolute favorite cold soup by far. And who knew it could be done without garlic... I will be trying this one asap David!

  2. Paula - I created this recipe because we have friends who have a hard time eating lots of raw veggies and, of course, because I can't have garlic... I think you will like it even without the "dreaded G!"

  3. David, amazing sounding recipe -I have to agree with Paula there, I am amazed that you can do Gazpacho without the garlic. I have eaten a few Gazpachos but could never really convince anyone in my family to like this dish - now I have a recipe that I will turn to and serve as a wonderful summery appetizer - I have a gas grill, the summer seems to finally have arrived and next weekend seems like the perfect time to try out this recipe.
    Was für tolle warmen Farben auf den tollen Fotos! Great pictures!
    Liebe Grüße aus Bonn und noch ein schönes Wochenende, bis bald, Andrea

  4. I've never had gazpacho, is it suppose to be served chilled because I'm not sure I could wait that long before I just HAD to dive in and eat it! (or drink it, the soup eat/ drink conundrum there!) . I'm following your blog with bloglovin now so hopefully I'll still have your blog on my reading list! :D
    from Emily x

  5. Andrea - Vielen Dank! All those wonderful vegetables really make it easy to have warm and rich photos! Your family might enjoy this version, as it is very different from any other!

    Hi, Emily! Glad you are up-to-date on the blog-following issues. I had no idea it was this complicated! :) Most gazpacho is served chilled, and that is the way I serve this version. But room temperature or hot would be just fine, too!

  6. I love the idea of grilling the gazpacho ingredients. It's so gorgeous and I can't even imagine how delicious it is. Sounds like a fun dinner group. I'm intrigued about the grilled pound cake, and will definitely try your soup when my dad's tomatoes are ready to pick.

  7. Valentina - there is nothing as good as homegrown tomatoes, ,either raw or used on cooking! You are so lucky your father is willing to share!

  8. Haha... I LOVE the idea of a 'grilled soup'. It plays with the mind and the palate... such gorgeous, rich flavours and charred, intense colours. I'm pretty sure this would be vegetable heaven in a bowl. I do love garlic though (spotted your comment to Paula, haah!) so I'd whack a roasted, sweet clove in there too ;)
    Thanks for this lovely recipe. Great idea David!

    1. Thanks, Laura - I would be all for garlic (especially roasted) if I could eat it. But there are worse things in life to which one could be allergic, and I am glad they skipped over me! Enjoy!

  9. Mr. P is not a fan of raw tomatoes.. He eats them cooked so he will love this.. Will give this a try!

    1. Mrs. P - when someone tells me they don't eat raw tomatoes or chocolate, my view is this: More for me! Hope you enjoy the soup!

  10. What a neat take on Gazpacho! I'll bet the flavors were so rich and delicious. And, what a fun event. I would love tohave a group of friends to do something like this with. Very creative!

    1. It is really fun, Susan - the themes are getting more and more creative!

  11. Very cool idea! I love grilled veggies--why not put them together for one of my favorite soups? BUT, I would not have thought about the need to compensate for the loss of liquid or the reduced crunchiness--good thing I read Cocoa & Lavender!!

    1. You know, Susan, this did make me think of other grilled soups - like grilled asparagus soup and grilled cauliflower and onion soup, for example... There is still plenty of summer left to try!


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