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Monday, August 9, 2010

Chilled Soup--Just Right on a Steamy Day

With tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers at their prime either in your backyard garden or at the local Farmers' Market, now is a great time to make up a batch of gazpacho for a cool lunch or light dinner.

Note that I didn't capitalize "gazpacho." According to some of the feedback at http://markbittman.com/sunday-supper-gazpacho
this term has been stretched far beyond what the original ethnic recipe includes...and I will admit that what I have learned to call gazpacho is pretty far from some of these comments. So let's just call my version Chilled Garden Soup. Whatever the label, enjoy!

The recipe here will make enough for two to three generous servings, but it can easily be doubled for guests or kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days of quick and cool lunches.

As usual, this recipe should be a guide more than a rigid instruction manual. Your preference may be for different proportions of the various vegetables or you may want to go with the "traditional" gazpacho mix that includes no onion or garlic at all. Start with these proportions, taste, and then adjust as desired.

Chilled Garden Soup

2 to 3 cups tomatoes, cut in large chunks or thick slices (don't bother to peel!)
1 cup cucumber, cut in chunks
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 c green or red bell pepper
1 clove garlic
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 t dried Italian seasoning
salt and black pepper to taste
fresh basil, if you have it

Combine all vegetables in a blender and process until slightly chunky. Add seasonings and taste, adjusting as necessary. Though you can eat this immediately (and the aroma will make it hard to resist), it is better after chilling for an hour or two.

Crusty bread is a great accompaniment and perhaps a few cheese cubes or some cottage cheese or boiled eggs to add protein to make it a nutritionally complete meal--without ever touching the stove or oven!

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