Monday, July 11, 2011

Perfect summer dinner

It has suddenly become incredibly hot. Hot with a capital H-O-T. So hot that I've been working up a sweat just by sitting on the couch. (Classy, I know). So hot that the thought of turning on the stove top, the  barbecue, or -- God forbid -- the oven -- makes me want to throw a major temper tantrum.

Herein lies the wonder of the cold soup. This recipe requires zero heat to make and is cool and refreshing to consume. I made a big batch of this the other day and have been eating it basically nonstop ever since (which is actually fantastic, because it's pretty darn healthy). Add a bit of focaccia and maybe a slice of cheese or two on the side and you've got yourself a fresh, heat-free, heavenly summer dinner.

Gazpacho My Way (Adapted from "For the love of  Soup" by Janelle Mitchell)

1 can crushed tomatoes
2 ripe, fresh tomatoes
1 cucumber
3 sweet peppers (a mix of green, red, orange, yellow -- whatever you have on hand. Though I like using only 1 green pepper because the other varieties are a bit sweeter).
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 chipotle peppers, or to taste (If you don't have chipotles, add a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce).
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish

Roughly chop cucumber, peppers, onion, garlic, and chipotles.

In batches, transfer the chopped veggies into a blender or food processor, adding a bit of the canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and a splash of olive oil to each batch. Puree until smooth.

When blended, transfer each batch into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper. If it's too thick, gradually add water until it suits you -- but keep in mind this should be a thick, hearty soup.

Chop the fresh tomatoes into smallish pieces and add to the soup. (This adds a nice chunky texture).

Mix well and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. This will keep covered in the fridge for several days.

Serve garnished with the chopped fresh cilantro and, if you like, a little vino on the side.


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