We think of tomato soup as all-American comfort food (it’s one of Campbell’s top three flavors). But at least one kind of tomato soup — the summer classic gazpacho — dates to ancient Rome, where it was originally a kind of mashed porridge made with bread, water and olive oil.
Gazpacho picked up flavor over the centuries, most notably when New World foods, like tomatoes, peppers and garlic, came to the Spanish table. Today this chilled favorite — identified mostly with Andalusia — has endless variations, including yellow, white, green and grilled.
No matter the variation or ingredients or their preparation, gazpacho remains gloriously simple. I call gazpacho a liquid salad — just throw some super-tasty vegetables and seasonings into a blender and process to make as smooth or chunky as you like. Then chill and serve. It’s that easy. The only “rule” is: The fresher the ingredients, the better the dish.
The cooling quality of gazpacho makes it the perfect hot-weather summer soup, ideal for feeding just one or two or a large Fourth of July cookout crowd. It’s almost a bonus that the soup is a low-fat nutritional powerhouse.
This summer — or any night, for that matter — don’t let the temps stop you from making a homemade meal. Chilled gazpacho lies at the heart of this spare meal, and all three courses require very little cooking and heating.
- Gazpacho With Sourdough Croutons
- Arugula and Shrimp Salad
- Easy Chocolate-Raspberry Parfait
Gazpacho With Sourdough Croutons
1½ cups seeded and coarsely chopped ripe tomatoes
¾ cup cored, seeded and coarsely chopped red bell pepper
½ cup seeded and coarsely chopped cucumber (OK to leave peel on)
¼ cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 medium clove garlic, coarsely chopped
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup 8-vegetable juice
Dash hot pepper sauce, or to taste
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 slices sourdough bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
Plain yogurt, for garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- In a medium bowl, stir together the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic. Put the mixture into a blender and process until it’s finely chopped but not pureed.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, enough of the vegetable juice to achieve the desired consistency, and hot sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
- To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 325° F. Toss the bread cubes with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp on the outside and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- To serve, stir the gazpacho and ladle it into a serving bowl. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt, chopped cilantro and the croutons.
Note: For a really thick gazpacho, soak a few pieces of country bread in water, squeeze dry and add them to the blender along with the vegetables.
Arugula and Shrimp Salad
6 to 8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
4 cups baby arugula, rinsed
- Preheat the broiler. Place the shrimp in a medium bowl, drizzle with ½ tablespoon of olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and arrange on a baking sheet.
- Broil the shrimp, turning once, until just done, about 4 minutes in total. Remove the pan from the broiler and set aside.
- Combine the vinegar, remaining tablespoon of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and the halved tomatoes in a medium bowl. Add the arugula and toss to coat.
- Transfer the arugula mixture to individual plates and arrange the shrimp on top. Serve immediately.
Easy Chocolate-Raspberry Parfait
2 chocolate graham crackers
4 ounces whipped cream cheese
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries
Whipped cream, for garnish
- Place the crackers in a plastic food-storage bag and crush with your fingers or a rolling pin (gently) to make fine crumbs.
- In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, cooled chocolate and sugar. Stir in the yogurt.
- In tall, stemmed glasses, layer the chocolate mixture, crumbs and raspberries and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top with whipped cream just before serving.
Wine Pairing Suggestion:
Tomatoes are quite acidic, so you’ll want a wine with enough acidity to stand up to gazpacho. A crisp, clean white wine, like Soave, would make a good match. It will also highlight the arugula and shrimp salad.