Sunday, August 17, 2008

Summer Vegetable Soup

Lots of people love gazpacho, but probably a greater number of people in the United States have never had the opportunity to try it. It's a great way to use up your fresh tomatoes and, in fact tastes best with tomatoes that are perfectly ripe. I've made this in the winter, though, and to get that summer tomato flavor, just use canned diced tomatoes that you've drained.

Make this several hours in advance and chill it; the flavors only get better and it's really delicious icy cold!

Gazpacho

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 red bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
1 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. fresh cilantro leaves (a few stems won't hurt)
4 c. V-8 Juice (I use the hot and spicy variety)
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. good balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of dry Sherry
Sour cream, whole cilantro sprigs, and optional croutons for garnish

Put all the vegetables into the bowl of a food processor and mince. Pour in juice. The amount will be determined by the size of the bowl....you just want liquid in there to really puree the raw vegetables. Reserve any juice that didn't fit into the food processor. Pulse and then continuously process until the vegetables are just tiny specks. Add the cumin and vinegars and pulls several times until the flavors are combined. Pour into pitcher and add any reserved tomato juice you may have left. Stir; cover and refrigerate until very cold. To serve: Pour cold soup into individual bowls. Float a dollop of sour cream in the middle, several crotons around that, and garnish with the cilantro sprig, and drizzle a small amount of sherry over top of soup. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 quarts of soup.

Note: You can use whatever color peppers you prefer, and if you would like this spicier you can spike the soup with Tabasco sauce. (Texas Pete or other sauces like that will add too much vinegar flavor.)

Bon App├ętit!
Chef Debbie

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