If you've been reading the Food section lately, you know you can make darned near anything on your grill -- from pizza to appetizers to side dishes to dessert.
And I'm here to tell you that you can grill soup, too. Yep, soup.
This recipe for Grilled Gazpacho adds just the right amount of smoke to the taste of the tomatoes, onions and red peppers. It's also a great way to make gazpacho in early summer when the tomatoes aren't nearly as tasty as they will be later on. In other words, grilling really boosts the flavor of anemic produce.
There are tips, of course, for grilling veggies, whether you are making soup or a side dish. First off, make sure to coat them with oil, but not too much. This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat four large tomatoes, two red peppers and a large onion. You want to make sure the veggies won't stick, but you don't want to flare up the grill. It can be a tricky proposition.
Then there's the fact not all veggies cook at the same pace. With gazpacho, the tomatoes, of course, are done before the onions and peppers, but only barely. Once you start grilling other sorts of vegetables, you'll notice some of them cook pretty quickly and other (potatoes, for instance), take a lot longer. It's pretty easy to char the outside and leave the inside raw. For longer cooking produce, consider cooking them over direct heat for a few minutes to get a nice char and then move them to a cooler portion of the grill where they can cook through without burning.
For this recipe, I cut everything into really big slices -- so easy. However, you can cut your veggies into smaller pieces if you want them to cook more quickly. Or, for a crispier surface, you can always cut the vegetables into thin rounds. For smaller pieces I suggest using a basket (a great investment for garden grillers) or skewers so don't lose half your produce through the grates.
Once you get the hang of grilling vegetables, there's no stopping you. Grilling adds a depth of flavor to everything -- even soup.
• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation, and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at soupalooza.com.