Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Soup for a warm day: Creamy gazpacho andaluz

So, with a post title like that, what we'll need, then, is a warm day, right?! That seems to be the plea throughout the Pacific Northwest right now: Where's summer?

When picnic planning for last weekend, I assumed warmth would be a factor--in the weather. Well, you know what happens when you assume, right? Sigh. We ended up eating it in a picnic shelter alongside the river, while raindrops fell and our (well, my) feet were wrapped in a blanket. Warmth, ha!

But this soup was warm in another way. I made a slight pepper adjustment (jalapeno instead of serrano), and it warmed us, all the way down! Actually quite lovely for my sinuses, but next time I'll stick with the pepper they suggest...

Creamy gazpacho andaluz
3 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cored
1 small cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
1 medium green bell pepper, halved cored and seeded
1 small red onion, peeled and halved (I had and used shallots)
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
1 small serrano chile, stemmed and halved
Kosher salt
1 slice white sandwich bread, torn in one-inch pieces
1/2 cup EVOO (here I deviated from the recipe and used a 1/4 cup olive oil and made up the rest with V8 juice)
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp. finely minced parsley, chives or basil leaves

Roughly chop 2 lbs. of tomatoes, half of cucumber, half of bell pepper, and half of onion and place in bowl. Add garlic, chile and 1 1/2 tsp salt; toss until well combined; set aside.

Cut remaining tomatoes, cucmber, and pepper into 1/4" dice; place in medium bowl. Mince remaining onion and add to diced vegetables. Toss with 1/2 tsp salt and transfer to fine mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Set aside 1 hour.

Transfer drained diced vegetables to medium bowl and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid and soak 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid with roughly chopped vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.

Transfer half of vegetable bread mixture to blender and process 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup oil and continue to blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain soup through fine mesh strainer into large bowl, repeat with remaining bread mixture and 1/4 cup oil.

Stir in vinegar, minced herb, and half of diced vegetables into soup and season to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

My variations include what I stated above in the ingredients list, and also: I didn't keep any fine dice of vegetables aside to add later. I like my soup all one consistency or another--smooth or chunky, not half of one, half of another. I also didn't push it through a fine mesh seive. I kept adding V8 juice until I got the consistency I wanted in the blender (a VitaMixer, so I was able to get it very smooth), and called it good.

While the flavor of the soup was lovely, it will be SO much better once using our garden tomatoes. Can't wait! Also, can't wait for the sunshine again.

I think the sweet dear we saw along the side of the road on the way to our picnic agrees, though she looked lovely in all the lush green.


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