Chilled Tomato Vodka Soup with Pesto Cream

There’s something so southern and sultry about spicy tomato paired with vodka. I want to take a bath in the stuff. In a claw foot tub on a lazy porch under a tree draped in Spanish moss. This chilled soup is perfect for the steamy weather we’ve been having here in Maine. Now, you’re not obligated to make the accompanying pesto cream, but you really ought to. It’s such a lovely complement to the acidic broth and also great on crackers. I bought a small carton of tasty-ugly tomatoes from Beth’s. They’re the very best thing about August.

Chilled Tomato Vodka Soup with Pesto Cream


For the Soup:

  • 8 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 banana pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 scallions, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • Kosher salt, black pepper, cumin
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vodka

For the Pesto Cream:

  • 1 cup packed arugula leaves
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


For the Soup:

Submerge tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water for one minute. Remove to bowl of ice water. Peel, seed, and roughly chop tomatoes. In a large skillet saute pepper, garlic, scallion, and celery in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin and cook on medium for 15-20 minutes. Transfer vegetables to the (drained) tomato pot, add fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, and vodka. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer for 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender right in the pot or work in batches in a jar blender. Allow the soup to chill in the refrigerator for at least six hours before serving with a dollop of pesto cream.

For the Pesto Cream:

Whiz all ingredients in a food processor until blended smooth. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.



  1. Geo says

    “They’re the very best thing about August.” No doubt about this… but can we add sweet corn as a close second?

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