Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Soups: Gazpacho

As the summer comes to an end, people are enjoying the bounties of their gardens, or as in my case, the bounty of friend's gardens. When Nancy Bentley recently gave me some tomatoes and a cucumber, I decided to make gazpacho.  

Using the freshest ingredients will make all the difference in this soup.  If you don't have ripe-from-the-garden tomatoes, use Campari tomatoes.  

1 lb tomatoes, peeled (if you are a purist), seeded and chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 red, yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

8 radishes, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

I lime, juiced

4 cups tomato juice or V-8, depending on your preference (I used 3 cups tomato juice and 3 cups Hot and Spicy V-8)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp Worchestershire

1/2 tsp ground cumin, toasted

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Optional toppings:

1 avocado, diced

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Fresh basil or cilantro, chopped

Always looking for the fastest way to do things in the kitchen, I didn't take the time to peel the tomatoes.  For my tastes, that works fine. If you or any one you are cooking for objects to tomato skins, try this technique for peeling them. Put water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  There should be enough water to almost cover the tomatoes when they are aded.  Make an X on the tomatoes with a paring knife.  Using tongs, plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds.  Remove tomatoes to an ice bath. After about 1 minute, you should be able to lift the skins off easily.

Since I prefer a chunky gazpacho, I chop all vegetables by hand. Most recipes will tell you to put about half of the mixture in a blender and puree. Being the lazy cook that I am, I skipped that step, too. 

Cover and chill for 2 hours or overnight. Serve cold.