Smoked Tomato Soup

By CHEF HOWARD KARP for the Flathead Beacon

During late summer, when your gardens are at their peak, this recipe is a nice remedy for an abundance of tomatoes and Swiss chard. Smoking the tomatoes is a wonderful way to add flavor to them – a few minutes on a backyard grill or in a stovetop smoker is all it takes.

Serves 8


• 2 cups Applewood chips

• 6 1/2 pounds of garden tomatoes, cored and halved

• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

• Sea salt & pepper, to taste

• 1 1/4 onion, thinly sliced

• 2 cups thinly sliced fennel

• 1 cup thinly sliced shallots

• 6 garlic cloves, smashed

2014-09-05_08401 1/2  tsp. pimento

• 2 1/2  Tbsp. sherry vinegar

• 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 1/2  cup dry white wine

• 2 sprigs thyme

• 1 sprig rosemary

• 4 Tbsp. butter

• 4 sprigs basil, plus 24 small leaves

• 1 cup diced pickled Swiss chard stems (recipe below)

Soak applewood chips in warm water for an hour, remove from water and set up stovetop smoker or grill at 140 degrees.  Place the chips in smoker.

In a large bowl, sprinkle the tomatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Once your chips are nice and smokey, put the tomatoes, skin-side down, on grate (over indirect heat) and smoke for 13 minutes.  Transfer tomatoes to a platter.

In a large pot, heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat.  Add fennel, onions, shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft. Add pimento, sherry and balsamic vinegars, and simmer until almost done.  Add the white wine, smoked tomatoes and their juices, thyme sprigs, rosemary and butter. Cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil sprigs and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Discard thyme, basil and rosemary. Process soup in a blender and pass through a fine sieve strainer.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve soup topped with pickled Swiss chard and basil leaves.

Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

• 2 cups stems from 4 bunches Swiss chard, cut into thin pieces

• 3/4 cup rice vinegar

• 1/4 cup water

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1 Tbsp. kosher salt

• 1 small beet peeled and quartered

Bring all ingredients except stems to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and chill in ice bath. Add the sliced stems allow to pickle for one hour.

CHEF’S NOTE: This soup will freeze nicely to keep for winter days.

Chef Howard Karp is an instructor at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College.  For more information about the program,