When the temperature rises, it’s hard to imagine turning on the stove or oven or even firing up the grill. The impulse might be to order in, but that gets expensive and there’s the landfill-filling disposable waste to throw away. Personally, I’m trying to cut back on that.
Fortunately, there are many great recipes that require no cooking. One of my favorites is gazpacho, a chilled soup of Spanish/Portuguese origin that dates back 15 centuries. Yes, the 7th Century! Fun fact: the original gazpacho had no tomatoes, as they weren’t brought to Europe until the 16th Century. Cheers to tomatoes being brought to Spain from the New World.
With chefs getting creative in their kitchens, there are many modern takes on gazpacho, using a wide range of vegetables and fruits. While those are fun on occasion, I’m still partial to the Andalusian tomato-based version. There’s nothing more refreshing for dinner on a hot summer’s day than a big bowl of tomato gazpacho. Served chilled, with chunks of fresh vegetables and chopped herbs, the soup is light yet satisfying.
Gazpacho also packs a powerful punch of nutrition. It’s a bowlful of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and antioxidants. This version is also packed with fiber. Unlike most gazpacho recipes, I don’t skin and seed the tomatoes. Everything goes in the blender for added nutrients and fiber. The key is to buy plum (also known as Roma) tomatoes. They are meatier and less watery than other varieties, which is why they are also the best tomatoes for sauces and salsas. Just make sure they’re ripe and smell sweet and tomato-y. It will make for a more flavorful soup. I used a combination of regular romas and stripeys that I found at the Underwood Farms table at the Sunday Farmer’s Market.
If you want the soup to be pureed smooth, I do recommend a high-speed blender. FYI, I don’t strain the soup. I think that extra step is unnecessary. Again, I want the added fiber and a bit of texture. If you want the soup extra silky smooth, then strain it through a fine mesh strainer once blended. If you want the gazpacho chunkier, you will want to use a standard blender or a food processor and simply pulse until the desired texture is achieved.* There’s no right or wrong way– just what you enjoy.
I topped the soup with fresh chopped cucumbers and avocado for that bit of chunky texture. The combination of crunchy and creamy made the soup addictive. Snipped chives added a mild onion flavor without overpowering the sweetness of the gazpacho. I then added a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil. I finished with a squeeze of fresh lime, of course. Gotta have that acid pop to bring all of the flavors together.
I served it with Organic Garbanzo Chips from Mom’s Products, available at both the Wednesday and Sunday markets, for an extra savory bite.
2 ¼ pounds Roma tomatoes
2 Persian cucumbers
½ large sweet white onion such as Vidalia
1 Marconi pepper or half a large red bell pepper
½ Anaheim chili pepper
1 large clove garlic
1 ½ tsp kosher salt or to taste
2 tsp sherry wine vinegar
¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil
EVOO to swirl on each bowl
1 fresh lime
The soup is best made ahead and allowed to sit in the fridge several hours.
Wash and thoroughly dry all vegetables.
Chop tomatoes, removing the stem end. Strain any tomato liquid that oozes as you chop, then put the tomatoes in the blender jar.
Half peel the cucumbers. It should look like a striped cucumber.
Rough chop one cucumber and add to the blender jar.
Neatly small chop the other cucumber and set aside in the fridge for topping the soup.
Rough chop the onion and add to the blender.
Seed both peppers. Rough chop and add to the blender.
Rough chop the garlic and add to the blender.
Cover the blender jar and turn on to medium high for a few seconds until the veggies are broken down, scraping down the sides if necessary.
Add the salt and the vinegar and blend again for a few seconds or until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Put the top back on removing the center stopper. With the motor running stream in the EVOO. Continue to blend until the consistency desired. Please note, that my high-speed blender is very powerful, so the soup was done in 30 seconds. Other blenders may take longer. Please gauge by tasting for the right consistency.
Store the soup in a covered container for several hours in the refrigerator.
When ready to serve, snip the chives, cut the avocado in chunks, and cut the lime in wedges. Remember to take the precut cucumber out of the fridge.
You can serve the soup with the toppings or on the side.
*If making a chunky version of gazpacho, I suggest removing the seeds from the tomatoes.
About Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.
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