David Tanis in the New York Times recently published a recipe for a Cold Tomato Soup but he hedged about calling it a gazpacho, that quintessential Spanish “liquid” salad. But when I read the recipe, disregarding his disclaimer, I immediately thought, “This is a deconstructed gazpacho”. And so it is, and a pretty good one too! And, a great way to use some of the summer’s bounty from the garden, especially the ripe tomatoes and fresh pungent garlic.
I, of course, can’t leave any recipe “unimproved” so here’s my version, to serve two.
1-1/2# ripe red tomatoes, cored and cut into haves or quarters depending on their size
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 Tbs. fine sea salt
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. Vinagre de Jerez, Spanish Sherry vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
Mix the tomato chunks, garlic, salt, olive oil, vinegar and peppers in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for about one hour.
After macerating, grate the tomatoes through the coarse holes of a box grater using the skins to push the tomato pulp through the grater holes. This is easier than it may sound. Try to get some of the garlic mashed through too, but don’t worry if most of it stays in pretty big pieces. Next, pass the grated tomato pulp through a standard kitchen sieve (not a colander or fine mesh sieve) using a spatula to work as much of the liquid through as possible. Discard the tomato skins, seeds and any chunks of garlic left in the sieve. Taste the “soup” and adjust the seasonings as necessary but remember, it’s related to gazpacho so it shouldn’t taste like tomato juice or Campbell’s Tomato Soup but rather a little vinegary and slightly peppery. Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to a whole day.
Garnish (or the rest of the “gazpacho”)
1/2 C. bell pepper – a mix of colors if available – finely diced
1/4 C. red onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbs. Vinagre de Jerez
2 thick slices of bread, toasted – something sturdy with a good crust, like French, ciabatta, or any coarse country bread. Cut the slices so they will fit into your soup bowls without crowding.
1 clove garlic, whole, peeled
1 firm but ripe avacado
8 medium shrimp, peeled
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Tbs. butter or olive oil
1 Tbs. flat-leafed parsley
1 Tbs. scallion, minced
Smoked Spanish Paprika (Pimenton), a generous pinch
Mix the peppers, onion, salt, olive oil and vinegar and set aside for 30 minutes.
Heat a cast iron or other heavy pan, until very hot. Add the shrimp and cherry tomatoes and pan broil until the shrimp are slightly charred. Add the butter and remove from the heat.
Rub each of the toasts with the clove of raw garlic. In each soup bowl, put a piece of toast, top with thick slices of avocado and half of the pepper relish. Carefully pour the soup around the toast. Arrange the shrimp and cherry tomatoes around the toast. Drizzle any butter or other juices left in the pan around the soup bowl. Garnish with the parsley, minced scallion and a generous pinch of smoked paprika sprinkled over the soup.
Side note on olive oil. We have discovered a “local” olive oil at our Farmer’s Market. The brand is Paeleon and it comes from Merill, Wisconsin – sort of. The fellow who sells it has a family olive grove in Southern Peloponnesus, in Greece where they grow and press the olives into oil. The oil is bulk shipped to Merill where it is bottled cutting down a bit on it’s carbon footprint (by not having to ship the bottles from Greece). The oil is excellent, fresh and a little grassy with a nice peppery aftertaste. I recommend it highly!