If heat could speak, then it would have been shouting this weekend. Summer is in full force, and the temperatures are soaring. When it's this hot, appetites wane, thirst dominates, and food takes on a cool and liquid quality. In other words, it's time for gazpacho.
Gazpacho is a raw tomato-based soup blended with a cornucopia of produce. It's perfect when the weather is stifling. No cooking is required: The spiced tomato juice quenches thirst, and a confetti of chopped vegetables refreshes and nourishes without feeling heavy. I prefer to keep my gazpacho chunky. I don't puree it, so I can take pleasure in each slurpy mouthful of crunchy vegetables mingling with cool juice.
The usual vegetables in gazpacho are tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. I always add more for color, flavor and texture. Carrots and bell peppers add sweetness, chile peppers add a kick of heat, even fennel is a nice addition for its anise flavor and crispy texture. Spices can either tip toward the Southwest with cumin or veer to the Mediterranean with basil and oregano.
In this recipe, I took inspiration from the Bloody Mary, my favorite veggie cocktail, and added celery, Worcestershire sauce and a generous squirt of Tabasco. It essentially tastes like a Virgin Bloody Mary, with a whole lot of crispy garnishes. And now that we're talking cocktails, you might even be tempted to add a splash of vodka to finish it -- and why not? If you're in the mood (and appropriately of age), take that extra step and add a glug of vodka for a wondrous beverage-soup-and-salad in a glass, and you'll have a perfect (adult) antidote to a hot and shouty day.
Bloody Mary Gazpacho
Prep time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 2 to 6 hours
Yield: makes 6 servings (At first, the soup will be quite thick with all the ingredients. It will become more juicy while it chills in the refrigerator.)
1 quart tomato juice
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 large celery stalk, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 English cucumber with skin, seeded, finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 medium poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves (or cilantro)
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the parsley. Mix together and taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
Before serving, stir in the parsley. If serving as a soup, ladle into bowls. To serve as a cocktail, mix 1 cup gazpacho with 1/2 ounce vodka, or to taste. Serve in a glass with a lime wedge.
CAPTIONS AND CREDITS
Caption 01: Photo by Lynda Balslev for TasteFood.