A soup for summer

Those of you with gardens or access to the local farmers market will soon have your hands on delicious fresh tomatoes and I have just the thing for you to make with them — gazpacho!

Gazpacho is a soup made from puréed fresh vegetables and served chilled. I first had gazpacho when I worked at the Piedmont Club. Our chef Alex made the most delicious gazpacho with just the perfect amount of spiciness. The idea of cold soup may throw you off guard a bit, but it is a delight on hot days like we’ve been having so far this summer.

Gazpacho is very simple to make and you can follow a recipe, or throw some of your favorite veggies in a blender to make it your own. The original concept hails from Spain and in addition to fresh veggies, bread is also often added to give the soup a little more thickness.

Tomatoes on a counter at Nina’s friend’s house in Spain.

My sorority sister Nina lives in Zaragoza, Spain, where gazpacho is very popular.

“Everyone uses a different recipe, I for example don’t add day old bread and add a couple of veggies not necessarily needed, plus I like it strong so raw garlic for me is a must!” Nina said. “In general, I tend to put in maybe a kilo of tomatoes, (Spain always has some unwritten rules about which are better for gazpacho, which for stews, which for salad, but I don’t pay much heed), half a glass of olive oil and another half of vinegar (generally white or apple, not balsamic but whatever floats your boat), then I add half an onion, some celery, a green and red pepper and cucumber. Oh, and a clove or two of garlic, but some find it too strong so maybe take out the ‘vein’ or ‘heart’ from the middle. Blend in blender. Add parsley if you want. It’s very ‘whatever I can find in the fridge’ and I don’t even look at it as a soup, to me it’s a drink. A refreshing, delicious and filling drink. It’s safe to start with having at least four to five medium to large tomatoes. Also, people here are insistent on peeling everything (I’ve literally seen people peel grapes), so apparently you’re meant to peel the tomatoes beforehand but it’s such a messy process for me that I toss in the chopped tomato with the skin on.”

Be brave, I say, and follow Nina’s lead by coming up with your own concoction of lovely fresh veggies blended into a beautiful cooling soup.

If you’re ready to try some gazpacho but are short on fresh tomatoes, my friend Donna shared the recipe below, it uses mainly tomato juice. Donna said she had this soup somewhere and it was delicious so she asked for the recipe.

If you’re really feeling adventurous, my sorority sister Lauren said her mom made a fantastic mango gazpacho recently. That recipe is below as well.

Nina gathers her veggies to prepare some gazpacho.

Donna’s Favorite Gazpacho
• 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
• 1 beef bouillon cube
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
• 2 tbls chopped green pepper
• 2 tbls chopped onion
• 2 tbls wine vinegar
• 1 tbls vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 3 drops red pepper sauce
Accompaniments: Herbed croutons, 1/3 cup each chopped cucumber, tomato, green pepper and onion.
Directions: Heat tomato juice to boiling. Add bouillon cube; stir until dissolved. Stir in remaining ingredients except accompaniments. Refrigerate several hours. Serve with accompaniments. Makes five servings of about 1/2 cup each. Donna said, “I also add garlic. I started out with this recipe, but prefer more vinegar and hot pepper sauce. Purple onion is nice or even green onions instead of the onion they mention. Enjoy!”

Lauren’s Mom’s Chilled Mango Gazpacho
• 3 mangos, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped (about 3 cups flesh)
• 1 1/2 English cucumbers, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, halved, cored and chopped
• 1 cup light coconut milk
• 1/2 cup vegetable broth
• 3/4 inch chunk fresh ginger
• 1 to 2 teaspoons red curry power, to taste (optional)
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
•2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus whole leaves for garnish
• kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Directions: In a blender, combine 1 cup of mango, 1/2 of the cucumber, 1/2 of the bell pepper, coconut milk, vegetable broth , ginger, curry powder, pepper flakes and vinegar. Puree until sooth, about 1 full minute. Add remaining mango, cucumber, bell pepper and two tablespoons of mint. Pulse several times to just finely chop, but not puree. Refrigerate, covered, for at least two hours. Stir well before serving. Garnish with additional mint. Makes six servings.

Reprinted from Kitsey’s Kitchen column in the Yadkin Ripple. 

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