Gazpacho

It may be September, but the weather hasn’t quite changed just yet (though I’m totally digging these cooler nights). I, much like summer itself, am having one last hurrah before retiring those delicious summer flavors. One of my favorite ways to celebrate the beautiful, flavorful summer produce available, especially in August/early September, is to throw everything in a blender and call it gazpacho.

Ok, I know that traditional gazpacho has bread in it. But I’ve never made it that way. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love bread, but why would I use bread to diminish the flavors of all those amazing summer veggies? That and my family originally started making gazpacho with the mindset of “this is basically just a vegetable smoothie.”

I prefer a red, tomato-based gazpacho packed with cucumbers, peppers, and sharp hints of fresh onion and garlic. Add a little tomato paste to deepen the flavor, a touch of lemon or vinegar to add some bite, and if you’re feeling really adventurous, just a hint of spice. Throw it all together and you have a refreshing starter to any meal.

Gazpacho

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
3 cups diced tomatoes (about 5 plum tomatoes, though any tomatoes will work as long as they are fresh and juicy)
2 cups diced cucumbers (about 2 medium cucumbers)
1 cup diced red, orange, or yellow bell pepper (about 2 medium peppers)
1-2 small shallots
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Reserve about 1/3 of the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

2. Put the remaining vegetables, along with all other ingredients, into a large blender. Blend until pureed, or until desired consistency is reached.

3. When ready to eat, divide puree into bowls and top with the reserved diced vegetables. Feel free to add additional things for toppings here, like corn, avocado, extra drizzled olive oil, or juilienne basil to serve. Also fee free to add in some red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you like you’re soup with a kick.

Serve cold and enjoy!

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