Tomatoes, corn and cucumbers fresh from backyard gardens and farmers markets are rolling in. One of my favorite ways to use all three is to make gazpacho, a summer cold soup.
Gazpacho is filling and refreshing, especially when it’s just too hot to cook. Plus, it’s a great way to use up leftover vegetables; you can tailor the recipe to whatever you have on hand.
There are plenty of gazpacho variations. You can adjust the flavor by using different varieties of tomatoes, green or red bell peppers and sweet onions or green onions. You can even throw fruit into the mix.
Gazpacho should have a deep red color and a fresh veggie flavor. The soup is puréed so the vegetables are just barely discernable. Sometimes recipes call for leaving some of the chopped vegetables out and stirring them in at the end so you can see them. Some gazpacho recipes call for using stale bread that has been soaked in water and then had the excess liquid squeezed out. Puréeing the bread with the other ingredients adds body and texture.
I prefer my gazpacho with a spicy kick. You can use chopped jalapeño peppers or just add several drops of your favorite hot red pepper sauce.
You can think of today’s gazpacho recipe as a super soup because it’s loaded with antioxidants.
Tomatoes and red bell peppers are well-known for their good doses of lycopene, a phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant that protects against disease. Both are also good sources of vitamin C.
When choosing the tomato juice or vegetable juice for this recipe, choose one that’s low in sodium. You can season with additional salt to taste. The addition of sugar helps bring out the flavor of the tomatoes.
Gazpacho is best served chilled as a main dish with some crusty bread or as an appetizer or starter. You can serve it in decorative cups or bowls, small glasses or even shot glasses. Plan on making it several hours before you serve it or the night before. It will keep for two days in the refrigerator.
Since a food processor (or blender) is used to purée the mixture, you need to only roughly chop a portion of the vegetables and dice the other portion for garnish.
2 pounds tomatoes, washed, seeded
1 red bell pepper, washed
1 green or yellow bell pepper, washed
3 salad cucumbers, washed
1 large shallot, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon hot red pepper sauce
1 3/4 cup low sodium or no salt added tomato juice or vegetable juice
1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed
2 teaspoons sugar
4 to 6 green onions, washed, green and white parts thinly sliced
Fresh basil, sliced in shreds
Salt and pepper to taste
Roughly chop about three-fourths of the tomatoes. Place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or a blender. Dice the remaining tomatoes and set aside.
For the bell peppers, roughly chop half of each one and add to the food processor. Dice the remaining bell peppers and set aside.
Peel, seed and roughly chop two of the cucumbers and add to the food processor. Leave the peel on the remaining cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and dice; set aside. Add the shallot, garlic cloves, olive oil, vinegar and hot pepper sauce to the food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a glass bowl (or leave in the blender jar). Stir in the tomato juice, corn, basil, remaining diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, sugar and half of the green onions. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Chill for 2 hours. Serve in cups, bowls and garnished with a bit of the diced bell peppers, diced cucumbers, minced garlic and green onion slices.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutrition information per serving: 104 cal (35 percent from fat), 4 g total fat, (1 g saturated), 0 mg chol, 16 g carbo, 3 g pro, 88 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber
From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.