Spain gave us this ever-popular summer soup, which is light and fresh-tasting, but with a bit of zing — or a lot of zing, if you like your food spicy. Every gazpacho recipe is a little different. I leave its crunchy ingredients large enough to give it texture, and to let the various colors play against one another — much more appetizing than a purée of red and green vegetables that, mingled too intimately, produces a dull brown. Stir in the olive oil, because blending will dull the dish’s color. I like a strong note of citrus in this cold soup, countered by a bit of sweetness. Float the crunchy mix on top so you can see it and stir it in bit by bit.
• 2 pounds red, ripe, juicy tomatoes
• 2 tbsp agave syrup or raw sugar
• Juice of 1 lemon
• Juice of 3 limes
• 1 tsp salt
• Freshly grated black pepper
• 1 tbsp minced onion
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 medium-sized cucumbers, about 1 pound
• 1/2 each red, orange and yellow bell peppers
• 1 jalapeño pepper, or to taste
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1. Wash the tomatoes and slice off the stem ends. Set in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to loosen their skins. Slip off the skins and discard. Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor along with the agave syrup, lemon juice, lime juice, salt, black pepper, onion and garlic. Pulse briefly until just smooth. Pour into a pitcher, gently stir in the olive oil, and refrigerate.
2. Peel the cucumbers, cut lengthwise in quarters, and scrape out any seeds. Cut into small dice and set aside in a bowl. Remove the stems, seeds and ribs from all the bell peppers, and then cut them into small dice as well. Finely chop the jalapeño. Add the peppers to the cucumbers, toss to combine, and refrigerate.
3. When ready to serve, give the tomato mixture a thorough stir and pour into individual bowls. Top each serving with the mixture of cucumbers and peppers, and then sprinkle on the cilantro.
4.Save any leftover cucumber/pepper mix, chilled, to top green salads.
More About Cucumbers and Peppers:
Barbara Damrosch and her husband, Eliot Coleman, own Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. Preserved hot chile peppers keep their meals lively during Maine’s long winters. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.