while we are talking about cool summer soups, let us remember gazpacho. the brilliant spanish, and also portugese, soup made from tomatoes, bread, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, etc. so easy. just chop, blend and chill. so refreshing.
if you have ever seen the movie women on the verge of a nervous breakdown by pedro almodovar, you will remember one of the few movies where a food is featured so heavily, it nearly becomes a character in the film. gazpacho, in the peak of tomato season, is a scene stealer. if you do see the film, you will enjoy the wonderful carmen maura and also antonio banderas when he was a very very young man, a great early film by one of my favorite directors. i could go on and on, but back to soup.
gazpacho has ancient origins and many variations. here is my favorite recipe. the secret is lots of cucumber and a good amount of olive oil. a great recipe when you need to eat but can't bear to turn on the stove or the oven. you can make it as simple, rustic, chunky, crunchy, smooth, or complicated as you want.
2 pounds ripe juicy summer tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced celery (optional)
1 large clove garlic (or two small)
1 cup cubed bread with the crusts cut off (rustic country loaves are best i find)
1/2 cup very cold water
1 large cucumber
1/2 cup parsley leaves
3 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP champagne vinegar (sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar could work here too)
2 tsp sea salt
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup organic mixed vegetable juice (optional, you won't need this if your tomatoes are perfecto)
chopped cucumber (essential)
chopped avocado (optional)
minced celery (optional)
chopped parsley (optional)
another drizzle of olive oil
first, chop the garlic clove(s). place bread cubes, garlic and cold water in a bowl to soak and flavor, maybe a little salt or olive oil if you like. now coarsely chop the red pepper and celery, if using. place in blender and blend briefly until mixed. now chop the tomatoes and 1/2 the cucumber (reserve the other half for garnish), add these to the blender as well and pulse until blended but still a bit chunky. add in the bread, parsley leaves, olive oil, and now the seasonings. taste as you go to get the right blend, adding a little of each. when you've got it where you want it. chill for one hour, then serve. no cooking whatsoever. brilliant.