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July 24, 2017
This is about...
Pretty GAZPACHO --- YUM!
        VEGETABLES, VEGETABLES EVERYWHERE! And, there are so many fresh, tasty ones just begging to be eaten now. I try my best not to mess around with them too much. And, if I can use them raw in the process, all the better.
        A bright summer gazpacho is just the ticket. Originally eaten during the hot summer months in Spain, it’s cool and refreshing and a little spicy too. TOMATOES ARE KEY, but it’s packed with a summer’s garden full of cucumbers, sweet red bell peppers, onion and a hint of spicy heat from jalepeno and garlic.
        As always, the best, ripest vegetables are going to yield the best, most praiseworthy soup. Being that there are farmer’s markets bursting at the seams with so many choices, that should be a simple task. Plus, YOU CAN’T GET ANY EASIER. Everything gets dumped into a blender and whizzed until smooth. The secret to its silky texture is the addition of extra olive oil. It turns what could be a watery slushy salsa concoction into a creamy, delectable soup.
        THE COLOR OF THE SOUP IS TOTALLY DEPENDENT UPON THE COLOR OF THE TOMATOES YOU CHOOSE. Your standard cherry tomatoes will yield a rich red color, and yellow ones will turn it into a brilliant gold. You might even come across green heirloom varieties. And you want to use cherry tomatoes as opposed to full size ones, because they're too watery.
        Plus, THERE’S A BONUS. One serving comes in at around 150 calories, and no bread in sight. So, you can eat it with abandon. Chunk it up with toppings and eat it as a refreshing soup, or serve it straight up in chilled glasses as a healthy drink. And, just for good measure, it’s gluten free.
        Toppings can be anything you like, from croutons --with or without gluten—to extra diced vegetables or herbs—fresh basil is a fave. Even a swirl of an herby flavored oil or a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds would be yummy.

LESSONS Learned:
1. A high speed blender makes this quick work with no straining required to get that creamy texture. But a regular one will work too, just press the soup through a sieve to strain out any solids.
2. I am not a fan of the sharp bite of raw onions and garlic (and jalapeno), so I like to soak the chopped pieces in cold water for a few minutes to lessen that. But you can skip that step, if you enjoy the raw versions.
3. I like English cucumbers because they’re sweeter, and they don’t need to be seeded or peeled. But seeded, peeled regular ones will work too.

Pretty Gazpacho

½ of a small red onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 small clove garlic, chopped
½ of a small jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed, or more to taste, optional
2 pounds red, orange or yellow cherry tomatoes, about 4 pint baskets 2/3 of an English cucumber, unpeeled
1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Optional Toppings:
Chopped fresh basil or mint
Croutons, regular or gluten free
Small diced cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes.
A drizzle of plain or herb infused olive oil

Make the gazpacho:
        If desired, place the onion, garlic and the jalepeno, if using, in a small bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit a few minutes, drain and cover with more cold. Drain again, and add to a blender jar. Or skip soaking step and add directly to the blender.
        Add the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, salt and sherry vinegar. Blend at high speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. With the blender running on a slower speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. It will become creamy and emulsified. (If your blender is smaller, blend it in batches drizzling in 1/4 cup of the oil into each batch, and combine.) Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding the extra salt and vinegar, if desired.
        Chill for at least an hour, up to overnight. Before serving. if it is too thick, you can thin it with a few tablespoons of water, and taste again for seasoning, again adding more salt and vinegar if desired.
        Serve in a bowl with toppings or in chilled glasses straight up with a drizzle of extra olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Makes 6 one cup servings.      YUM!
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