Spicy Gazpacho

            In just a few minutes, you can have a stash of chilled summer soup waiting for you on these hot summer days!

It’s a snack. It’s lunch. Dress it up just a bit, and it’s dinner. And, it only takes moments to prepare.

Gazpacho, is traditionally a Spanish soup made with stale bread whirled in a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, peppers, onions, oil and vinegar. However, many prefer it without the bread for a cleaner, fresher flavor (I’m included in that).

This recipe makes exactly enough to fill a two-quart canning jar for easy storage in the refrigerator. No cook, little measuring, and you have instant meals for a few days! All you need to do is feed raw foods into the blender or food processor, chill, and that’s it.

Process this to your own desired state, an extremely smooth puree, or a soup with lots of texture. If you want it chunky, process the garlic and onion in the tomato juice first so that they are less apparent in the final product and dispersed more evenly. No one wants to bite into a big chunk of raw garlic.

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            Use any tomato you have an abundance of whether cherry, plum, or big meaty beefsteak.

If you don’t have enough fresh tomatoes yet, use a can of organic San Marzano whole tomatoes. I often want this once the weather turns really hot but before the local tomatoes start making their appearance.

I have included approximations here, but this is one of those dishes that really is about technique and not precise measurements. If you have a lot of tomatoes, use more, if you love cucumbers, add more of those. No onions? Use scallions or leeks. What else do you have on hand? Arugula (yum)? Chard or spinach greens?

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Add as much or little spice as you want to this blender soup. To make it a dinner, add crabmeat, shrimp, or tofu.

 

Make it your own! If you love the flavor of peppers the best, increase the amount. You can also make this with or without the cucumbers. I like it nice and warm, so I use two hot peppers and usually add a bit of cayenne as well. You can omit them if you don’t want the heat, increase it, or use a hotter pepper. Just taste as you go and make it yours.

You don’t have to be precise here in your chopping, just rough is fine since it will be all processed.

1 cup tomato juice, low sodium

1 quart chopped plum tomatoes

            OR 1 28-oz can tomatoes and their juice, chopped

1 sweet onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped

1 English cucumber, all parts

1 large red bell pepper

1 stalk celery

1-2 Jalapeno peppers, seeds optional

¼ cup parsley or cilantro

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup sherry or cider vinegar

½ tsp. cumin

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper

Put everything in the blender and process until the desired consistency. If your blender is small, you may have to do this in two batches.

Chill at least four hours. Adjust seasoning after it has set; you might need more salt.

Dress up for dinner: This makes a lovely dinner with a little pile of Maine crabmeat nestled on top – our family’s favorite! Roasted tofu is quite at home in this soup as well.