Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer! Gazpacho!


We are definitely in the thick of summer here in Austin, and it’s only June! It’s too hot! It’s too hot to cook, it’s too hot to eat & it’s way too hot to be hanging out endlessly in the kitchen. But as usual, nature has the answer. The veggies being harvested right now are exactly the veggies you need for one of my very favorite summer soups. In fact, the vegetables this year are amazing. I don’t know how our farmers here in Austin are managing in this crazy weather, but we are getting such gorgeous produce.

Between the heat, and the bounty, I couldn’t wait to make gazpacho. Seriously. When I picked up my farmshare last week all I saw was the complete palette of raw ingredients for the perfect cold summer soup. And yes, I’m goofy thrilled to be able to make this soup almost entirely with produce from our local farms.

Fresh Tomato Gazpacho
• 4 fresh tomatoes, diced & divided in 1/2
• I fresh cucumber, seeded & diced & divided in 1/2
• 2 fresh bell peppers, seeded, cored & diced & divided in 1/2
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled & diced
• 1 small handful fresh parsley, rinsed and diced
• 3 – 4 leaves basil, diced
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• A dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp salt
• Several grinds of fresh pepper
• 4 – 6 cups tomato juice, divided
• A few shakes of hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Louisiana hot sauce – this can be added to the whole batch or to individual bowls at the preference of the eater)

Place ½ of the diced tomato, cucumber & bell pepper in a large, pretty bowl and reserve.

In the jar of a blender, place the diced garlic, parsley, basil, red wine vinegar, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce (if using in whole batch) & 1 cup tomato juice and blend until smooth. (The idea here is to get all of the garlic and herbs blended evenly throughout this “flavor base”.)

To the mixture in the blender, add the remaining ½ of all of the diced vegetables. Blend until mixture is consistent and smooth – but still textured, about 30 – 60 seconds.

Add this mixture and 3 cups of the remaining tomato juice to the bowl of chopped veggies. Now take a
look. Is it too thick, or just right? If you’d like it to be a little thinner, add more tomato juice.

Chill for an hour or so, to allow the flavors to blend, or you can eat right away. It keeps well in the fridge for 2 – 3 days, and works great packed for lunch. I like mine with a little cheese and crackers, or bruschetta. And don’t forget the pepper sauce!

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