When it’s as sweltering as it’s been this summer, there are many days I simply don’t know what to cook, never mind have the appetite to eat. The sultry weather drains so much of my energy! That’s why I turn to chilled soups which will nourish the body while having a cooling effect. My all-time favorite chilled soup is gazpacho since it blends the rich flavor of the Jersey tomato with all the other seasonal produce. It’s a meal in itself, gets better as it sit in the fridge for a few days, and can be jazzed up with numerous toppings including grilled shrimp, crab or lobster. And there’s no better motivation to make the soup than a friend (especially one that will head to the farm stand to get the ideal tomatoes!).
It was on one incredibly hot day last week when Debbie and I stood side by side blanching, blending and chopping to our hearts content. Our vision was to bring our soup to the beach the next day and serve it to friends and family with fresh chunks of avocado and cilantro. We created our own recipe, improvising and puréeing along the way with some of Debbie’s garden veggies and herbs and other market finds. Our soup, which successfully cooled and satisfied many friends, was a winner this summer and will certainly be made again and again and again. . .
Garden Fresh Gazpacho
This recipe will yield a massive amount of soup. So, if you’re looking for less, simply cut the recipe in half. When serving, dice an avocado and serve with fresh chopped onions, cilantro or even some grilled shrimp, crab or lobster.
16 large tomatoes, skins removed*
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
9 large garlic cloves
3 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, seeds removed and cut into pieces
1 orange pepper, seeds removed and cut into pieces
1 red onion, skins removed and shopped
6 scallions, washed and chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into pieces
1 cup cilantro, washed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 teaspoons old bay seasoning
Juice from one lemon
Using a food processor or blender fitted with a steel blade puree all of the vegetables and herbs in small batches, transferring the processed ingredients to a very large bowl (You may even need two). Once the veggies are pureed, whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and taste as you go. Chill the soup overnight or longer since the flavors will intensify.
*Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Score the tomatoes with a knife at the top. Place in boiling water for a minute or two and the skins will loosen. Repeat with all the tomatoes.