By Elke Probkevitz
When the thought of sitting over a hot stove brings a sweat to your brow, turn to a cold yet satisfying meal of a chilled summer gazpacho. Gazpacho evokes thoughts of bright red produce and raw, crisp garnishes right in the heart of the summer season. It’s another way of enjoying your seasonal tomatoes and not letting one bit go to waste. Gazpacho, however, has evolved to include just about any produce and is so simple to make, all you need is a simple blender.
The basics. For tomato gazpacho, you’ll need about 6 cups of chopped tomatoes, along with the supporting flavors of cucumber, bell pepper, and red onion. Add garlic to give it a punch, at least two cloves, and jalapeño or habañero pepper or Tabasco sauce for a spicy kick. Then two slices of stale bread can be added to give the soup body and differentiate it from a salsa. Add fresh lemon or lime for acidity or avocado to add a creamy element. Fresh herbs are always a wonderful addition.
The prep. Gazpacho is so easy, since everything goes in a blender. All you need is to simply wash those veggies and give them a rough chop—consistency not required here. Put the bread at the bottom of the bowl and layer chopped produce on top of the bread so it can soak up all their juices. For a chunkier soup, reserve a quarter of the veggies, chopped more finely and evenly, to add in later. Toss your bowl of produce with 2 teaspoons of salt, cover, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to let the juices mingle and marry.
The process. Whip out your food processor or blender and blend in batches. Drizzle in olive oil to make the soup smooth and silky, about half to one cup. Add ¼ cup of red-wine vinegar to add dimension and tang. Any spices of your choice can be incorporated to customize the flavors—cumin, smoked paprika, or anything you prefer. Season well with salt, to taste. Add in any reserved chopped veggies for a chunkier soup. That’s it! When you ladle in bowls, drizzle with a little more olive oil and garnish with a couple of the chopped veggies to let your diners know what’s inside their gazpacho.
To shake it up. A good way to figure out what combinations marry well in gazpacho is to see if they pair well in a salad. Similar colors also work well: summer squash and corn, watermelon and red bell pepper, zucchini and basil. You get the idea. Some unconventional variations include substituting tomatoes for strawberries or watermelon; a white gazpacho of bread, almonds, garlic, sherry vinegar, and olive oil topped with cantaloupe balls; or using cucumbers as your base with onion, garlic, and mint for a green cucumber mint gazpacho. There are so many variations, each one a beautiful summer soup to keep you satisfied while you stay cool. v
Yellow Summer Gazpacho
1 navel orange, peeled and segmented (pith removed)
4 medium yellow beefsteak tomatoes, preferably heirloom
2 large yellow bell peppers, plus ¼ of a pepper diced for garnish
1 cucumber, plus ¼ of a cucumber diced for garnish
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more for seasoning
⅓ to ½ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
⅓ cup sherry or red-wine vinegar
¼ tsp. hot sauce, optional to taste
1 ear of corn, kernels removed for garnish
chives for garnish
Coarsely chop orange, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onion, and garlic. Combine in a bowl with salt, olive oil, vinegar, and (optionally) hot sauce. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Working in batches, purée in a blender until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Chill in refrigerator covered for 1 hour.
Stir gazpacho after chilling, then ladle into bowls. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then garnish with fresh corn kernels, chives, diced yellow peppers, and cucumbers.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.