Indian Summer indeed! Global warming is alive and well when it's pushing 100 degrees in San Francisco in September. Not wanting to make anything that involved getting near a stove, I called my friends J & J and asked if I could come over to their uber swanky and, this is key, air conditioned kitchen and whip something up for us for dinner. When I woke up yesterday morning and it was already 82 degrees, all I could think about was cold gazpacho soup with some thick crunchy crusty bread.
I asked J various questions. Do you have a Cuisinart? No. Do you have a blender? Hold on. J, do we have a blender? No. Do you have a stick blender? Yes. Is it charged? Hold on. No. Ok, Plan B. I'll run to the store, I'll bring my stick blender, and you chill the tomatoes. An hour or so of chopping later, accompanied by a glass of champagne, we dined on some darn good gazpacho soup, much to my amazement, relief and delight. J and I high-fived :) I hadn't made it in literally years, maybe a decade (?!?!), so I was quite nervous but thanks to some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and a lot of love, it was a hit. I showed some restraint in the chopped garlic area - vampires, be damned - but had I not, it would have overpowered, so go with 2 cloves, not the 4 that I originally intended. One jalepeno and we were sufficiently spicy. I'm a huge spice wimp so I err on the conservative side here. (Note: it was even spicier the next day!)
J served the soup with a crisp rose, Domaine de Beaurenard, from the Cotes du Rhone and we toasted (our one minimal use of the oven) some thick country bread and rubbed it with a garlic clove and the cut half of a roma tomato as they do in Spain. A little garnish of basil chiffonade and we were good to go...
1 large can (20-something oz) whole peeled + 3 - 14 oz cans Progresso diced tomatoes + juice
2-3 heirloom tomatoes (diced, save juice and add to bowl)
1 basket small orange baby tomatoes (cut in half across the equator)
1/4 - 1/2 cup white wine or champagne vinegar (depending on consistency & taste)
1 red pepper (cut out ribs, seeds & dice)
1 yellow pepper (cut out ribs, seeds & dice)
1 jalepeno pepper (cut out ribs, seeds & dice)
1 avocado (half for the soup, half diced for the garnish)
2 large shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 english cucumber (cut off most of the green, leave a little for color, scoop out seeds, dice)
juice of 1 lime
10 or so large basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade for garnish
sea salt, fresh ground pepper
save a tablespoon or two of each of the baby tomatoes, red pepper, yellow pepper, cucumber, celery, half the avocado, and 1/2 tbsp of diced jalepeno for the garnish. put everything but the avocado in a small bowl, add a swirl of olive oil, some sea salt, fresh ground pepper and stir to combine. add the avocado and give it a quick stir gently. set aside.
if using a stick blender, combine all the vegetables in a large glass (or non-reactive) bowl along with half the vinegar and blend. I like mine a bit chunky, not super smooth, so I blended in pulses moving the stick blender along the outside of the bowl. If using a cuisinart, just pour it all in and pulse til you get the consistency you'd like. add more liquid (vinegar, stock, water depending on your taste) if you want a thinner consistency. taste and add lime juice if you think it needs a kick. taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as you'd like.
mine didn't not come out a bright red as you might imagine because I added the avocado but I like the creamy consistency it gives the soup. I topped each bowl with a tbsp or two of the vegetable brunoise (dice) garnish, a few ribbons of basil, a drizzle of good olive oil and a few drops of really good balsamic vinegar.
bon appetit and stay cool!