Gazpacho

I’m a professional gazpacho eater. From my days as a little tyke whipping spoonfuls of tomatoey goodness around our outdoor dinner table, to my tweeny years requesting gazpacho for my special birthday meal, until I finally graduated from gazpacho eater to gazpacho maker. With my mother’s valuable cooking knowledge and memorization of her age-old recipe, I experimented with my own mixtures of blended tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, and red onions.

Perhaps gazpacho appeals to me so much because to produce a truly wonderful soup, your ingredients must be spectacular. Gazpacho is a dish to enjoy only during the high tomato season between June and August, or else it’s simply not worth making. The title of Ali’s favorite tomatoes is a tie between Snug Haven and Canopy Garden farms. While Snug Haven supplies their luscious tomatoes to Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill in Chicago (winner of Top Chef Masters and owner of THE BEST mexican food north of the border), Canopy Garden also boasts crisp baby cucumbers which are another staple ingredient of the gazpacho task at hand.

For me, gazpacho divides itself into two camps: chunky and smooth. The first standby recipe I found came from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen (I own virtually all of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks), and it spoke to me as an obviously chunky version, which satisfied the messy child in me. But the more sophisticated, well-educated palate in my soul (and my picky eater father), longed for a creamy cold tomato soup. This is the creamy gazpacho recipe winner that garners praise from all three mouths in my family (but not the cat).

 

Gazpacho (Raw, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free)

Makes 6 servings, 2 cups per serving

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 cup sungold tomatoes (the sweetest ball of nature’s candy you’ll ever pop into your mouth. If you’re not lucky enough to snag a pint of these, any cherry tomato will do. The sweeter, the better, though!)
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 large red/yellow/orange bell pepper (NOT GREEN. Green bell peppers are the devil’s work.)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1/2 cup basil (or more…I’m a bit of an herb fiend.)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar (I’ve substituted half the vinegar for balsamic with great results. The flavor is unctuous and more mysterious.)
  • 2/3 cup tomato juice (R.W. Knudsen’s is a great organic brand.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rough-chop all vegetables enough to fit in food processor, blend until very smooth (about 2 minutes). I recommend pureeing the soup in 2 batches or the mixture won’t fit in a standard 10-cup food processor bowl. So unless you have a behemoth processor or love splattering cold, red soup all over your kitchen, split the recipe in half and blend it twice. Adapted from Choosing Raw.

 

Beautiful heirloom tomatoes from Canopy Gardens.

Local Ingredients: Heirloom tomatoes and baby cucumbers from Canopy Gardens, sungold tomatoes and red torpedo onions from the Dane County Farmer’s Market, basil from my garden.

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