Gazpacho for the Soul
After 30 years in the restaurant business, its still shocks me how few people enjoy cold soup. In the heat and humidity of high summer, few things are more appealing to me. Conversely, while a hot bowl of homemade soup is very comforting when it's cold out, it is not what I desire when it's warm. As much as I enjoy eating classics like coq au vin and Cassoulet in the winter-in the summer a simple salad and bowl of cold soup is what I want to eat. We New Englanders simply don't need to eat as much when it is 90 degrees outside, compared to the dead of winter-although few of us really modify our diets accordingly. An enormous percentage of our daily caloric intake goes to maintaining body temperature. Eskimos need to consume more calories than South Seas islanders.
I know from prior experience that during ski season and when it is frigid outside, hot soup is a big seller in the Café. Hot soup satisfies a primal craving for warmth. But for some reason, the opposite doesn't seem to be as true in summer. When it is blisteringly hot and oppressively humid, for some cold soup doesn't resonate in the same way. There is no best seller, "Gazpacho for the Soul," like there is "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Yes, it is true, during peak tomato season, gazpacho is popular, and I make it regularly. But it is a very short season, and unless very ripe local tomatoes are available, it is unthinkable to even attempt to make this soup. We all remember too well last years' tomato fiasco, when a blight destroyed most of the local tomato crop-and are appetite for tomatoes is even stronger this year, having been deprived and denied last year.
There is virtually no such thing as a tomato which is too ripe-and when tomato season comes local farmers often sell bruised, split, or cracked tomatoes at a discount. These are perfect for soup, and less expensive.
It's simple to blanch and peel a tomato-simply remove the core with a paring knife, and then drop in boiling water for 15 seconds, then plunge into ice water. The skin then easily peels off, and you're ready to make soup or sauce
They season is all too fleeting, so make the most of it while it is here. It will give your soul goosebumps.
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
6 oz. V-8 or tomato juice
1/2 small red onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 bunch scallion, minced
1 Tablespoon basil, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
splash Tabasco or hot sauce to taste
1. Remove the core of the tomato, score the bottom of the tomato with an
"X" mark, and drop in boiling water for 15 seconds, and then plunge in
2. Peel the skin off, and cut the tomato in half, and squeeze out the
3. Place the tomato, cucumber, red onion, and garlic in a blender or
food processor, and puree.
4. Add the remaining ingredients, and taste for salt and pepper. Serve
well chilled, with some minced scallion or herbs on top.