As summer winds down, those of us with green thumb friends and relatives will most likely be assaulted by bushels of extra produce. I am particularly blessed because my sister lives in an apartment, but loves gardening. So, Paul and I play at feudal estate management—my sister, our serf. We have given her a small plot of land for her to till and farm as she pleases. In exchange, we exact a levy for part of her harvest.
This year, she has given us an abundance of cucumbers and a few tomatoes. (She slyly planted those vile and hated beets, and thus was able to abscond with all of those vegetables.) But, what to do with so many cukes and maters? One word: Gazpacho. (Those of you with zucchini growing friends, you’re out of luck on this recipe.)
I’ve found that Inside America’s Test Kitchen (the 2004 series companion) has an easy recipe that makes just enough gazpacho so that you get a bit sick of eating it after a few days.
- 3 ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1½ lb), cored and cut into ¼-inch dice (Obviously, if you have smaller tomatoes, use more. Just get about a pound and a half.)
- 2 medium red bell peppers (about 1 lb), cored, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice
- 2 small cucumbers (about 1 lb), one peeled and the other with skin on, both seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
- ½ small sweet onion or two shallots, peeled and minced
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 t salt
- ⅓ C sherry vinegar
- Ground black pepper
- 5 C tomato juice (they prefer Welch’s or Fresh Samantha’s. I used the Whole Food generic brand.)
- 1 t Tabasco sauce (I used a wee bit more because I love the spicy.)
- 8 ice cubes
Combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onion, garlic, salt, vinegar, and pepper to taste in a large (at least 4-quart) nonreactive bowl. (Nonreactive means not metal or porous ceramic. The acidity in the tomatoes can cause a reactive bowl to leech into your soup. Not only can it give the soup a metallic taste, but it’s not too healthy for you. I recommend glass or Pyrex.) Let stand until the vegetables just being to release their juices, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato juice, hot pepper sauce, and ice cubes. Cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. (Truth time: I omitted the ice cubes and just refrigerated overnight.)
Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper (I find that tomato juice is pretty high in sodium, so salt really wasn’t necessary.) and remove and discard any unmelted ice cubes. Serve cold, drizzling each portion with about 1 t extra virgin olive oil and topping desired garnishes.
For a garnish, I used avocados sliced just before serving. It also tastes good with slices of hard-boiled egg (a Mr. Moo favorite). The cookbook also suggests croutons or chopped black olives. Your call.
Because you don’t blend or whir it in a food processor, this comes out pretty chunky. Like gazpacho is supposed to be.
I like this recipe because you will have leftovers. (And, obviously, cold soup keeps pretty well in the fridge.) The other bonus to this recipe is that it is pretty easy to tweak. Don’t like peppers? Add more tomatoes and cucumbers. You can also up the spice by adding jalapeno peppers or change the flavor profile by roasting the peppers before adding (Note: Roasting does give them a bit of a weird texture next to the raw veggies).