The taste of summer
When the vegetable garden goes into full production, it’s time for gazpacho. The best gazpacho is made with garden fresh produce at the peek of the season.
Gazpacho is a cold vegetable soup. It’s a southern Spanish dish of blended fresh raw vegetables in a tomato base.
Use up a lot of vegetables. Tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, herbs.
When the garden explodes and the kitchen counter is covered with fresh produce, make gazpacho.
Don’t like bell peppers? Leave them out. Add zucchini, roasted garlic, a few shakes of hot pepper sauce. The point is to make this recipe your own by adding the vegetables and herbs that you grow and love. Or, pick the best and most abundant produce at the farmers market.
Some gazpacho is served puréed until smooth. I prefer a chunkier version that includes chopped vegetables. Choose vine-ripened tomatoes and the freshest vegetables.
Use what you have and what you like. I will use extra cukes in midsummer. Later, when all the pepper varieties are producing, I’ll use more peppers and less cucumbers.
Start with the basic recipe, then make it your own.
2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 or two cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium chopped red onion
1 small hot pepper, seeded and minced (your choice, jalapeño, poblano, banana)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (herb vinegar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
mixed herbs 2 tablespoons of your choice
2 tablespoons fresh basil for garnish
Combine half of the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, onion. Mince small hot pepper and 2 garlic cloves. Add 2 cups of tomato juice, half the salt and purée. I use a stick blender.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the purée. Stir in oil, vinegar, salt pepper, mixed herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate.
The important thing is to chill the soup. Refrigerating the gazpacho allows the vegetable flavors to meld. The most flavorful a gazpacho will chill overnight.
SERVE – in chilled bowls with chilled soup spoons, with a chiffonade of basil to garnish. Pass around extra chopped herbs or grated Parmesan cheese.
PEEL Tomatoes: To remove the skins, mark a small “X” on the bottom with a sharp knife. Slowly lower tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water. The skins will slip off, and you can proceed with the gazpacho recipe.
CHIFFONADE basil: Create ribbons of basil by stacking the basil leaves and roll them into a cigar shape. Carefully cut across the rolled basil with a sharp knife.
The taste of summer.
Your garden in a bowl. Even better the next day. For thicker soup, add a bit of tomato paste as you adjust the seasoning.
FINISH soup: add a splash of red wine vinegar, herb or balsamic vinegar, olive oil or extra chopped herbs.
ADD Herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme. Use roasted garlic instead of fresh raw minced garlic. Top with a dollop of pesto.
Grow vegetables – Make Soup
Grow your own soup. Garden fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and cost very little to make. If you don’t think you have time to make soup, make a double batch and freeze half for a busy day. Make soup in the crock pot. Soup usually tastes even better the next day. What could be faster than that?
Chili, chicken and noodle soup, vegetable soup and stews of any kind are better and usually have less salt when made from scratch. I love soup and will be sharing some soup gardening and soup making tips from time to time.