It’s been a hot summer in the Bay Area. A few days before the 4th-of-July long weekend, a week of 90-something˚ F temperatures was being forecasted. No big deal, those of you in other parts of the country might say; but this isn’t an area where homes have air conditioning. After a few days, it’s a little miserable when you’re used to temperatures in the 60′s this time of year, and you’re moving heavy boxes into a new home.
So we ditched the boxes, and headed to the mountains. Unfortunately the heat tracked us all the way to the Lake like a hound dog following a scent. So I made meals that could be eaten at room temperature, or chilled, like this gazpacho soup, until the weather returned to normal, whatever that is.
This twist on gazpacho uses tomatillos, which are highly under-rated in my humble opinion, and a splash of Pinot Noir. A nice fruity Syrah would work just as well. If it’s hot where you are, this is a great way to beat the heat, and take advantage of the season’s best tomatoes.
A Few Tips:
This is a recipe where tomatoes shine. If they’re less than perfect, save them for another recipe where they’re not the star of the show.
A fruity Pinot Noir or a Syrah are perfect in this soup. The effect is subtle, but noticeable.
The Serrano adds just a little kick, but if that’s not to your taste, it’s easy to eliminate.
The most important ingredient, after the tomatoes, is the bread at the end of the recipe. This is an old Italian secret for getting a creamy consistency in soups without the cream. The secret is to use very fresh bread without any crusts. The effect in this soup is to smooth out what can be a coarse overall texture. Watching it in the food processor was like watching a piece of magic.
Gazpacho for a Hot Summer Day
Serves 4 to 6
Prep Time: 25 minutes (plus chill time)
Cook Time: 0
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
- 1 white onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 2 cups chopped cucumber
- 1 red pepper coarsely chopped
- 3 tomatillos
- ½ Serrano pepper
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 4 1/2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine (either a Pinot Noir, Syrah or Zinfandel work well)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup packed soft, fresh bread
Bring a small pot of water to a boil (about 4 cups of water). Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice a small “X” at the bottom of each tomato, and place them in a medium bowl. Pour the hot water over them, and allow to soak for a minute. Remove and peel by grabbing the skin on of the corners created by the “X”.
Slice in quarters and place in a bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, along with the white onion, cucumber, and red pepper. If the cucumber has a lot of seeds, scoop them out with a spoon, and chop up the remaining flesh. If the cucumber has a thick waxy skin, remove it as well.
Remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse well, and halve. Slice the Serrano pepper in half lengthwise, seed, and mince. Add the tomatillos and Serrano to the bowl of the processor, along with the minced garlic.
Process to a smooth texture, or the texture you prefer, and pour into a stainless steel bowl. If the bowl of your processor it too small to accommodate all of these ingredients, first process the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber together, and pour into the bowl. Replace the bowl of the processor and re-fit the blade, and add the red pepper, tomatillos, Serrano and garlic. Process, and pour to the same bowl.
Using a balloon shaped whisk, whisk the sherry wine vinegar, olive oil, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.
Remove approximately three cups of the soup and pour back into the food processor. Add the soft bread in pieces, and process until smooth. Pour back into the bowl, and stir into the remaining soup.
Cover with plastic and chill for 4 hours or ideally overnight before serving.