With Memorial Day behind us and temperatures climbing, summer has arrived in DC. When I think summertime meals my mind immediately fires up a grill, tosses on some corn, skirt steak and veggie skewers, and cracks open a cold beer. Unfortunately, my reality is that I live in a tiny (but lovable) one bedroom apartment. With no real outdoor space to speak of, grilling and chilling isn’t really an option. So what’s a girl to make?
Gazpacho! This healthy, tomato-based soup is traditionally served cold and originates from the southern Spanish region of Andalucia. To keep mine on the lighter side, I made it vegan and gluten-free (most recipes call for adding day-old bread to the base). Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C, folate, potassium and, perhaps most significantly, the heart-healthy antioxidant compound, lycopene. Lycopene has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain kinds of cancer.
If you have a food processor and/or blender, this recipe is super easy. For best results, make it in the morning the day you plan to serve it for supper or one day in advance–all this goodness needs time to marinate, allowing the flavors to fuse.
What You’ll Need:
- 4 large tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 2 carrots
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 small bunch of scallions (approx. 8 stalks, white and green)
- 1 shallot
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 stalks of celery
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 handfuls of fresh basil (reserve a few big leaves for garnish)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tbs chipotle pepper flakes (or your favorite kind/quantity of heat
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup water (optional)
- 1/4 cup organic tomato paste
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 Tbs olive oil (plus more for garnish)
How to Make It:
- Get out a big bowl, cutting board, vegetable peeler, knife, microplane, food processor, and blender.
- Peel your cucumber and carrot. Rough chop them into big chunks and set aside. Wash your bell pepper, celery and scallions. Rough chop and set aside. Peel your shallot and onion, and set aside (can be left whole). Stem and core your tomatoes and cut into quarters. Again, set aside.
- In separate batches (one at a time) place the (1) shallots, onion and garlic, (2) carrots and celery, (3) red pepper and cucumbers, and (4) tomatoes in your food processor and pulse until minced but not puréed. Add each batch to your bowl. Zest one lime using a microplane (if you have one) directly over the bowl. Mix to combine.
- Add the spices, basil, tomato paste, water, fresh lime juice, and olive oil to your blender. Pulse until basil is even processed.
- Add the blender mix to your large bowl. Whisk until it all comes together.
- Cover the soup with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to a full day. When ready to serve, taste for seasoning and heat. Adjust accordingly.
- Serve in big bowls with a drizzle of high-quality olive oil and a generous pinch of shredded basil.
This recipe will serve about four people. If you’re gluten-free, I recommend serving it with some blue corn tortilla chips and nice glass of white wine. If you aren’t worried about gluten, serve with some lightly toasted hunks of hearty, whole grain bread and a beer. It’s a perfect summer supper to enjoy on your porch, roof deck, or (in my case) front stoop. Enjoy!