Too Darn Hot

Dinner:  July 9, 2007

After spending far too much time yesterday on steamy city sidewalks and even steamier subway platforms, the very last thing I wanted to do when I got home from work was stand over a hot stove. So what’s a girl to do when she wants to sup with her baby but doesn’t want to cook? She makes gazpacho, of course.

This is an incredibly simple soup to put together, and it comes together in almost no time. I make mine in the blender, but you could certainly use a food processor or immersion blender to get a similar result. I certainly don’t claim that this is an authentic gazpacho, but I really like the combination of flavors in this version.

To start, I tore some crusty bread into small chunks until I had about 2 cups worth. I sprinkled a pinch of salt over the bread, then poured about 1/2 cup of Sherry vinegar over the bread chunks, tossed them, and set them aside to soften. I roughly chopped a small head of Rocambole garlic (as well as the scape that was attached) and half a red onion, and placed them in my mini-chopper. I pulsed them until they were finely diced and set them aside.

The real “meat” of this soup is the veggies – I cored and chunked up three large really ripe tomatoes and two bell peppers (one orange and one yellow), and chopped up two Kirby cucumbers. I added half of the chopped veggies to the blender, along with half of the onion/garlic mixture, half of the bread, a healthy pinch of salt and half of the soaked bread mixture. I poured in about a cup of vegetable juice (I use Knudsen Very Veggie), lidded it up and pureed the soup. I poured the puree out into a large deep bowl and repeated this with the remaining veggies, onion/garlic mixture, bread, and another cup of juice.

Once my two batches of puree were in the bowl, I stirred in about 1/3 cup of olive oil, and seasoned the soup with a healthy amount of smoked Spanish paprika and Chipotle powder – many gazpacho recipes call for using fresh chiles, but I prefer the smokiness and depth of the Chipotle powder to the straight heat of chiles. I tasted the soup and adjusted the seasoning by adding a bit more salt and vinegar, then I covered it and let it chill for half an hour or so – just enough time for me to head out to the garden with a glass of chilled rose and watch the fireflies.

When the soup was lightly chilled, I ladled it into bowls and served it with a couple slices of cheese toast on the side – a light and refreshing supper to end a sweltering day.