Yesterday’s salad is hard to love. Time turns muddled and mushy what was once crisp and bright. Dressed too long, salad is the leftover without another life.
But I found redemption recently, in day-old Greek salad. Not, that is, in its leading parts, but in the combined liquids—tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar—pooled at the bottom of the bowl.
Here’s how: Ever intrepid about leftovers, I sorted out my salad’s salvageable parts. I discarded its wilted greens and placed the limp tomatoes in a strainer. Pressing to release any trapped juices, I inadvertently mashed tomato pulp through the strainer holes. I combined the tomato juice and pulp with the reserved salad juices, stumbling upon a light soup that, with extra lemon, tasted as bright as the original salad itself.
Chilled Tomato and Olive Oil Soup
While this soup is relatively smooth and drinkable, it requires nothing more than a fine strainer to make, although a grater is helpful, too. Excellent olive oil is necessary, of course, as the “recipe” calls for up to a full cup.
You’ll need at least an hour for the tomatoes to release their liquid, recreating the “leftover effect.”
4 to 6 servings
6 medium, ripe, round tomatoes, cored
2 teaspoons salt
¾ to 1 cup excellent olive oil
1 to 2 lemons
First, prepare tomatoes: Cut each cored tomato into eight wedges. Set up a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl, and squeeze out the tomato seeds and seed sacs, using your fingers to clean out any seeds trapped inside. Place tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with the salt, toss a couple of times, and set aside.
Press the seeds through the strainer, catching their juices, and add these juices back to the tomatoes. Discard the seeds. Drizzle the olive oil onto the tomatoes and stir. Let tomatoes sit at room temperature for at least an hour, or, covered, overnight. You may indulge the temptation to stir, but it’s not necessary.
Once the extracted tomato juices have settled in the bowl, pull out the wedges one by one, pushing them through the strainer back into the bowl, or rubbing them against a large-holed grater to remove the pulp from the skin. The grater yields coarser pieces of pulp, which I prefer. Save the sweet skins to pile on breakfast toast with butter.
You may whisk together the tomato pulp, juices, and olive oil with a fork to a uniform texture like gazpacho, or stir them languidly, encouraging streaks of oil. A squeeze of lemon will turn this prep work into a finished soup. Hold back on additional salt until the end.
Eat with garlicky bread.