In the Creole country of Louisiana they know all about hot weather, and the regionís zesty, spicy foods are perfect for those steamy nights on the bayou–or in your own back yard. Fresh garden vegetables, especially rich red tomatoes, star in this French-inspired Creole soup, served chilled with a dollop of a garlicky black olive tapenade.
The simple soup cooks in only 15 minutes, but the taste is sublime. As you sip it, you can pretend youíre on a balcony overlooking the French Quarter in New Orleans. Jazz plays softly in the background. The moon is rising. Life is good.
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 sweet red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 small ancho chile pepper
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 handful fresh basil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup pitted black olives
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. To prepare the soup, in a large pan over medium-high heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil, allowing it to cook for a moment without browning. Add the tomatoes along with the bell and chile peppers and simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in the vinegar, thyme, and basil.
2. Remove from heat and puree in a food mill or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill soup for several hours.
3. To prepare the tapenade, in a food processor combine the garlic, olives, and lemon juice. Puree into a paste while slowly adding olive oil.
4. To serve, pour the soup into chilled soup bowls and drizzle with a spoonful of the tapenade.
Serves 4 – 6.