Monday, July 13, 2009
I remember the first and last time I tried gazpacho. Each grading period in my high school Spanish class included a cultural foods unit. The class was divided into groups and we crossed the hallway from the classroom to the foreign language kitchen and prepared our dish to share with the whole class. It was certainly a welcome change of scenery from the monotony of sitting in rows of desks AND a wonderful opportunity to try cuisine native to the Spanish speaking regions of the world. My group did not make the gazpacho, but I was excited as my taste of the cold, tomato-based soup sat in front of me. I mean, I love to say the name of this soup. Gazpacho! It warrants the exclamation point after. And then I sampled a spoonful. Hmmm. That's it? I thought. It wasn't horrible. But it wasn't earth-shatteringly great either. And so I wrote off gazpacho. For like, 15 years. Until a couple of weeks ago. I was scrolling through the Pioneer Woman's old posts and I saw her version of the cold, refreshing soup. It looked so beautiful and tasty (as does everything on her blog), I had to give gazpacho another chance. This is a perfect soup to use up the bounty of fresh, sun-ripened vegetables that you're hauling out of your garden right now.
Here's what you'll need: garlic, red onion, tomato, zucchini, celery, cucumber, tomato juice (I used spicy V8), red wine vinegar, olive oil, hot sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.
In my mom's food processor (Still on loan. This thing is about as old as I am and still works like a top.) I combined half of the chopped veggies, all of the garlic, half of the tomato juice, and the red wine vinegar, olive oil, hot sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.
Let's give it a whirl.
You want to pulse until it looks like this.
Then I added the rest of the V8.
And most of the rest of the veggies. I saved a couple of tablespoons of each to garnish upon serving. After this step I added more salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
At the suggestion of the famed Pioneer Woman, I served this with grilled shrimp, avocado slices, and some grilled slices of Italian bread. I garnished with finely diced veggies reserved from the soup and fresh cilantro.
I ate this for dinner. Not just a snack, not as salsa. And I was NOT disappointed. It was surprisingly fulfilling and refreshing. My husband was a skeptic, but he agreed to try. He was also impressed. Mostly by the shrimp, which I cooked in garlic and butter, but he actually liked the gazpacho too. So much in fact, that I caught him trying it on tortilla chips and the next morning on his scrambled eggs.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 large cucumber, diced
5 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 cups tomato juice (I used Spicy V8)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup (more to taste) red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (less to taste) sugar
Tabasco to taste (I used Frank's Red Hot)
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Finely minced jalapeno (for those of you who love heat)
In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the minced garlic with half the red onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, half the zucchini, half the celery, half the tomato juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, Tabasco, and a dash of salt. Pulse until all ingredients are blended well; mixture will have a nice speckled, colorful texture. Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the tomato juice, and half of the remaining onion, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, and celery. (Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish.) Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding salt if needed. Chill soup for at least a couple of hours; soup needs to be very cold!
Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with remaining diced vegetables, a sliver of fresh avocado, sour cream, and cilantro. Finally, place a grilled shrimp on the top and serve with grilled slices of bread.