- Half of a baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes, about 1 cup
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, quartered and cored (or substitute a 28-ounce can); reserve some diced fresh for garnish, if desired
- 2 pounds strawberries, hulled, reserve some diced fresh for garnish, if desired
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut in chunks
- ½ of a fennel bulb (or if using local fennel, which tends to be very small, about 4 bulbs), cored and thinly sliced (reserve fronds for garnish if desired)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Loose handful fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups or more sparkling mineral water, chilled
- Salt to taste
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
About this recipe
I am a huge proponent of eating food when it is in season locally, and when I first saw this recipe, I rolled my eyes. I don’t know where in the world fresh strawberries and tomatoes are in season together.
But for some reason, I kept the recipe and kept peeking at it for years. I finally made it several years ago, and this is now one of my few concessions to out-ofseason mash-ups. I highly recommend that you either: Buy lots of the best fresh local strawberries you can and freeze them, waiting for our glorious later summer tomatoes, or use the strawberries at their freshest and use the best canned tomatoes you can find.
I like to serve this in small cups as a drinkable soup, so I usually add a little more of the sparkling water. You can also thin it with a very light sparkling wine (such as prosecco) to make it really festive.
Makes about 8 bowl-sized servings and takes about an hour to make, not including chilling time.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Scatter the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until crisp. Let cool.
- Combine the tomatoes, strawberries, bell pepper, fennel, garlic, bread cubes, balsamic vinegar and basil leaves in a large bowl. Working in batches, purée in a blender until smooth, thinning with a little of the sparkling water. (Don’t use all of the water at this step. You will add the rest just before serving so you will have a little “fizz.”) Season with salt to taste, cover and place in refrigerator to chill at least ½ hour and up to two days.
- To serve, add the remaining chilled sparkling water to the desired consistency. Garnish with finely chopped tomatoes, strawberries, bell pepper and/or fennel, a drizzle of olive oil, or fennel fronds.