Well, it's still summer. And summer means tomatoes (or, as we used to say back in North Carolina: "'maters"). Lots and lots of plump, juicy tomatoes, bursting from our gardens and farmers markets. Gazpacho is a quick, delicious, healthy way to use up some of the gajillions of pounds of tomatoes we always have this time of year.
Start with ripe, red tomatoes from your garden or your local market. The other vegetables are up to you, and their color doesn't really matter. Bell pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic are typical. If you like some heat, toss in a jalapeno or other chili pepper or a few drops of your favorite hot sauce.
Fresh herbs are nice, too, like basil, thyme, oregano or cilantro. Other people use a bit of ground cumin. Remember, you're in charge. Just don't forget to add salt. Start with a little, then taste as you add successively more until it's perfectly seasoned.
As for the method, back in the day it used to involve lots of pounding with a mortar and pestle to get a decent puree. Fortunately for us, getting a decent puree is another thing that's not what it used to be. Now we just pulse everything in a blender or food processor. Bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz. Done. Here's a little more structure:
Blanch and shock a couple pounds-ish of ripe, red tomatoes. Peel them, cut them in half around their equators and squeeze out the seeds. Give them a rough chop. This is called tomato concasse ("KON kuh say').
Throw the concasse in your food processor along with a cut-up bell pepper or two, some chopped onion, a clove or two of garlic and a peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber. Add any fresh herbs or hot chilies that you want along with a splash of vinegar (cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar…whatever you have will work) and two or three splashes of extra-virgin olive oil. You also can throw in a slice of stale bread that you soaked in water and squeezed dry. Pulse the mixture until it's smooth and soupy. Like soup.
If it's too thick, add some canned tomato juice or chicken broth (which would mean it's no longer vegetarian, of course, but it thins the soup just fine).
Season to taste with salt, then chill it for an hour or so.
Serve it in cold bowls garnished with a small dice of whatever vegetables you put in the soup along with a spoonful of extra-virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. Yum.
WHITE CASHEW GAZPACHO
Prep: 30 minutes
Chill: 2 hours or more
Makes: 12 servings
Recipe from chef Brendan McDermott of Kendall College. Adjust the amount of garlic to your taste. It should be the kick to this dish. For the breadcrumbs, use two 1 pound loaves of stale rustic bakery bread. Tear into pieces, then buzz in a food processor to create breadcrumbs.
- 4 cups raw cashews (20 ounces)
- 14 medium cloves garlic
- 8 cups fresh breadcrumbs (white or sourdough)
- 2 quarts ice water
- 1/2 cup white wine or Champagne vinegar
- 1 to 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
Pulse cashews, garlic and breadcrumbs in a food processor until smooth. Add water, vinegar and olive oil until fully incorporated. Add salt. Adjust seasoning as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in a cold bowl.
Note: As the soup sits, it may thicken; add water and season accordingly.
Nutrition information per serving: 664 calories, 38 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 64 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 814 mg sodium, 3 g fiber