Friday, November 7, 2008

Recipe: Green Zebra Gazpacho Soup

Here's a recent find from The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, by Amelia Saltsman. I've had this book for over a year, but I always seem to find some lovely treat when I'm in the mood for something new. A favorite then, a favorite today.

Case in point, Gazpacho. The name doesn't do it for me, and the thought of a cold tomato soup feels...well, kinda blagh. But I keep forgetting that because it's a raw soup, it's almost more like a salad than a soup. The flavors are so fresh, and when you leave the right amount of texture, there's even that bit of crunch in each spoon. I had gazpacho in Spain, and it completely changed my perception of it. But I left that behind when I left Spain. I decided to give it another chance with this recipe as my inspiration, and I'm hooked again!

There's a decent amount of prep work involved in this recipe, the worst of which involves the tomatoes. As for everything else, remember that it's all going to get blended in the end, so don't worry too much about chopping. Oh, and when you do start blending, cover up. This soup has more jump than Splash Mountain.

You have been warned.

Lastly, flavors are best when the soup is left to sit for a bit, so don't plan on eating it right away. And because it's served cold, leave seasoning for when you're about to serve. Cold food needs more seasoning.

Green Zebra Gazpacho
2 lbs ripe Green Zebra or Evergreen tomatoes
2 Persian cucumbers (about 10 ounces total)
1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup seedless green grapes
2 cups torn, crust-free, stale French bread
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 to 1 small jalapeno chile, cut into small pieces
Leaves from 8 to 10 sprigs cilantro
Leaves from 8 to 10 sprigs mint
2 tablespoons canola or other mild cooking oil
Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice
Snipped fresh chives for garnish

Peel and seed tomatoes, reserving the juices that collect in the bowl. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Peel the cucumbers, cut them in half lenthwise, and use the tip of a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Cut the cucumbers into chunks and add them to the bowl. Stir in the cucumbers, onion, grapes, bread, juice of 1 lime, 1/2 chile, cilantro, mint, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and water.

Puree the soup with a stand blender, leaving the texture a little chunky. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. If the soup is not zesty enough, grind the remaining 1/2 chile with a little of the soup and stir it into the soup. Garnish each serving with the avocado, chives, and an extra sprinkling of salt.