Monday, June 11, 2012

Easy Summer Gazpacho

I always order gazpacho soup when it's on a summer restaurant menu. There is something consistently refreshing about its chilled, tomatoey consistency, drizzle of a quality olive oil, and chopped summer veggies for some texture variety. Although I usually like to start my dining out with a salad, this all-vegetable Easy Summer Gazpacho soup easily takes the place of that plant-rooted (no pun intended) craving.

This recipe has been a staple in my family for years and consistently receives compliments by all guests when served at big party or family function.  I especially enjoyed making it this time around with a colorful assortment of heirloom tomatoes. I recommend serving with a sliced french baguette topped with fresh ricotta or goat cheese. If you own a quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, I suggest using those here too. Craving some spice? Add a dash of hot sauce before ladling out portions.

One last thing: if you are not a cold soup lover but enjoy tomato sauce, definitely give this recipe a try. I'm not one for cold vegetable soups generally either, but this is just a really refreshing twist on tomato sauce (or tomato soup) for a hot summer day. Plus, the chunky vegetables give real substance to the soup. Enjoy!

Easy Summer Gazpacho (from Health Magazine Jul/Aug 2005 issue)
Yield: 8 Servings

4 cups tomato juice (such as Campbell's Organic Tomato juice)
2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1 3/4 cups chopped seeded unpeeled cucumber
1 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Combine all ingredients except basil in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) before serving.
2. Ladle the gazpacho into soup bowls, top with basil. Optional: Serve with toasted sliced baguette topped with goat or ricotta cheese.

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