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A cool soup for a warm day, Tomato and Strawberry Gazpacho makes good use of seasonal foods.
AP photo by Larry Crowe
A cool soup for a warm day, Tomato and Strawberry Gazpacho makes good use of seasonal foods.

Refreshing Gazpacho recipes
When summer sizzles save room for some soup that shivers

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

Gazpacho is great when the chilled soup stars those fresh garden or farmers' market tomatoes.

Take this Spanish-style classic a step further. Toss in fresh cantaloupe, strawberries, corn, cucumbers or other veggies, and you've got a new hit.

"I like gazpacho, but the ultimate minimalist version doesn't always cut it for me," said cookbook author and food writer Mark Bittman.

That's when you "take a few tomatoes, a red pepper, some onion, oil and vinegar, and whiz it in a blender," he said.

Then a friend suggested he abandon tradition and combine tomatoes with another fruit of the season, cantaloupe.

That addition, combined with basil and lemon (in place of vinegar), "produces the mildest, most delicious, creamiest gazpacho I've ever tasted," said Bittman. He writes "The Minimalist" column in the New York Times and has a new television show, "The Best Recipes in the World."

He suggests using ripe cantaloupe and tomatoes at the height of the summer for the best results.

"Good tomatoes are bursting with potential," said Bittman. "The difference between consuming a tomato out of hand and slicing it, then sprinkling it with a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil, is the different between a snack and a dish. And the great thing about tomatoes is that it takes so little to convert them from one to the other."

Along with giving the recipe for Tomato-Melon Gazpacho, Bittman tells how to peel and seed the tomatoes for gazpacho. That task is worth the effort, he said in his book, “Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times” (Broadway Books, 2007). Watch for his latest book, “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” this fall.

To peel and seed tomatoes, cut a small X on the smooth (flower) end of each tomato. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. In about 30 seconds, you’ll see the skin begin to loosen. Immediately remove them from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water. When they’re cool, peel them; then cut them in half through their equator. Squeeze and shake out the seeds. For best flavor, do this over a strainer and recombine the reserved juices with the pulp.

Strawberries can be added to tomatoes, instead of melon. Author Patricia Well included the recipe for Tomato and Strawberry Gazpacho in her cookbook, “Vegetable Harvest” (William Morrow Co., 2007).

Got fresh garden corn you’d like to pair with tomatoes and other veggies? Transform it into Spicy Corn Gazpacho, which can make a light main course or a cool starter for a main meal. Toss sweet corn with ripe tomatoes, cucumber, crisp bell peppers, chopped onion, vegetable juice, pepper sauce and fresh cilantro. The Tabasco recipe developers recommend serving it chilled, with a side of pita chips and a bottle of Tabasco handy for those who want it hotter.

And if you prefer your gazpacho flavors to meld in a salad, try Zesty Gazpacho Salad from Taste of Home’s “Contest Winning Annual Recipes 2007” (Reiman Publications, 2007). It’s just right for a summer cookout, because you mix it up in advance so the flavors blend, and there’s no last-minute fuss.

Try some of these gazpacho recipes:

Spicy Corn Gazpacho

4 ears corn on the cob, shucked
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable or tomato juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
11/2 teaspoons original Tabasco pepper sauce
Pita chips

Stand each ear of corn upright on its end. With small paring knife, holding the top of the cob with one hand, run knife carefully down the cob just under the kernels to cut them off.

Cook kernels in boiling, salted water 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water to cool; drain well.

Combine corn, tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, red onion, vegetable juice, vinegar, cilantro and original Tabasco pepper sauce in large bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate to chill before serving.

Serve with pita chips. Makes six 1-cup servings.

Fresh Gazpacho

2 cups tomato juice, preferably freshly juiced
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon onion, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, minced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Bragg’s seasoning, or sea salt to taste
Dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth (work in batches, if necessary). Serve immediately.

Zesty Gazpacho Salad

2 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into thick slices
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small ripe avocado, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup picante sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour over zucchini mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Tomato and Strawberry Gazpacho

1 pound fresh tomatoes, cored and quartered (do not peel)

1 pound fresh strawberries, stems removed

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes and strawberries. Add the vinegar and blend again. Chill thoroughly before serving, or for at least an hour. Serve in small, clear glasses. Makes 8 servings.

Celery Apple Gazpacho

If tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and berries in a cold soup aren’t to your taste, you might want to try a variety made with apples and celery.

When Gourmet magazine turned 65 this year, editors sifted through more than 25,000 recipes and chose one favorite from each year. They threw in another 285 tasty dishes for good measure, including Celery Apple Gazpacho, which was published in “The Best of Gourmet 2007: 65 Years, 65 Favorite Recipes” (Random House, 2007).

Recipe

8 to 9 celery ribs, chopped (3 cups)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
11/2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 3-inch piece baguette, crust discarded
1/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Puree celery, apple, water, lemon juice and salt in a blender until smooth. Chill mixture in blender, covered, for 1 hour. Reblend; then pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Soak bread in strained soup for 3 minutes.

Rinse blender and pulse almonds until finely ground. Add soup with bread and blend until smooth. Then, with motor running, add oil in a slow stream, blending until emulsified. Garnish with thin celery matchstick curls, if desired. Serves four as a first course.

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