Indian Summer Gazpacho

My first encounter on the computer one day last week was a gchat from Christopher.  He was so delighted over his CSA box that was just delivered.  The contents did, indeed, sound yummy with lots of culinary opportunities for them.  Later in the day, I thought about this and realized that I had, unknowingly, given him as a child something special – the gift of vegetables!

Not a day goes by without someone extolling the virtues of vegetables – the  USDA’s Food Plate (the Food Pyramid is a thing of the past) is 50% vegetables/fruit ; the medical community constantly talks about the virtues of vegetables in warding off stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.  and let us not forget our parents telling us to eat our vegetables!  Yet many of us do not meet this barometer.

A nutrition lecture I attended at Canyon Ranch/Tucson many years ago  compared the American diet to that of the Japanese.  The one thing that I still remember is the variety of foods the Japanese eat compared to us (100s of different things a day compared to a handful by us).  Think about a Bento box for lunch and how beautifully all the food is arranged and how many different things are in there!  Since then I have tried to expand my horizons and include lots of variety every day and week in the foods I consume.  Vegetables are a great way to achieve some of this goal!

When Shelby and I visited Spain we were determined to eat gazpacho (cold vegetable soup) everyday and try the many varieties for which Spain is known.   There are so many varieties of authentic gazpacho depending on the region of Spain you are visiting and we tried them all.  And, loved them – tomato based or almond based  –  topped with croutons, eggs or Serrano ham  – all were delightful.  When we returned home I made many versions, but always seemed to go back to the one recipe I had before the trip.  I don’t remember where I got the recipe; probably a Junior League cookbook from the 80’s.

It is Indian Summer here now and we are enjoying some beautiful, warm days and the wine harvest has started.  So, before the bounty of summer is completely gone, I invite you to try this recipe. 

I have modified the recipe over the years  – I use low sodium V8 juice ( 3x the recipe fits in with the contents of the bottle), red onion, so many varieties of cucumbers, peppers, olive oil and red wine vinegar from which to choose;I use the leaves of the celery, too;, I put the garlic through a press; I use a generous portion of  Texas Pete’s hot sauce and don’t use sugar, salt or pepper.  And, I chop by hand and it is not uniform or small.  The soup isn’t complete for me without the toppings of homemade whole grain croutons and avocado served in chilled bowls.  This is so fun to prepare and you can make your very own variation.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we have over the years.  I would love your recipes and comments.  ENJOY!

GAZPACHO

1 large tomato, peeled and seeded
½ small onion
½ cucumber
½ green pepper
1 large celery stock
2 t finely chopped parsley
1 t finely chopped chives
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 C tomato-vegetable juice
2-3 T red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 t sugar
1 t salt
¼ t white pepper
½ t Worcestershire sauce
1/8 t Tabasco sauce

Finely chop all vegetables (use a food processor).  Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until very cold at least 2 hours.

Serve in chilled bowls with an assortment of garnishes: chopped hard-cooked egg whites, sieved hard-cooked egg yolks, finely chopped green onions or chives, croutons, bacon bits and chopped avocado.

Serves 6

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