Gazpacho is one of my favorite summer soups. I love the tang on my tongue with that first spoonful that’s quickly followed by the sweet crunch of the fresh vegetables. It’s full of goodness. I use yellow and orange bell peppers because of their bright and cheery color that stands in contrast to the deep red of the tomato. The colored peppers are very high in vitamin C, too.
Summer Harvest Gazpacho
Makes 6-8 servings
8 plum tomatoes
2 English or 4 pickling cucumbers, skin on
1 organic yellow bell pepper
1 organic orange bell pepper
1 large, sweet yellow onion
1 bunch of scallions (thinly sliced)
1C chopped fresh cilantro (1 large bunch)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 – 26 oz boxes of crushed tomatoes
26 oz. of water (fill the empty tomato box to measure)
2 limes, juiced
1 jalapeño, seeded, and minced
¾C Bragg’s raw cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2T sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions: Roughly chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and onion into 2” chunks. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the vegetables until they are the size you prefer (minced or chopped) and add them to a large, non-reactive stock pot.
NOTE: I like to process the vegetables separately and use the “pulse” button to control the timing, but you can also hand chop the vegetables if you prefer. If you over-process the vegetables, you get vegetable purée. NOT good.
Add the sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, boxes of crushed tomatoes, water, lime juice, minced jalapeño peppers, vinegar, and EVOO. Stir to combine. Add the salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings. If the soup is too thick for you, add more water and readjust seasoning. Refrigerate an hour before serving. Serve cold.
Here we are, summer is officially over and I am still overloaded with fresh tomatoes. I think that the best way to eat them is right off the vine, still warm from the sun, with a sprinkle of sea salt, don’t you? I like to choose the reddest and ripest tomato, and take a giant bite. Nothing better.
It seems like it takes forever for my tomatoes to be ready to pick, but when they are ready, they ARE READY – all at once. When I have too many tomatoes ripe at the same time, and my kitchen begins to look like a farmer’s market on a Saturday morning, I make this soup. And because I like to simplify things whenever possible, I use my Vita-Mix blender, one of my favorite kitchen tools. The Vita-Mix saves me the time of peeling and seeding the tomatoes before blending them. Before the Vita-Mix, I’d been through five blenders – some expensive, some inexpensive. They just didn’t have the horsepower for what I needed and burnt out quickly. Blending ice for cocktails burns a motor out pretty quickly.
I decided to go with a Vita-Mix after seeing a raw food restaurant using it for smoothies. It blended in seconds and didn’t strain or shake. It really is worth every penny. My Vita-Mix is about 9 years old and it performs like new. If you don’t have a powerful blender, you will have to blanch the tomatoes, peel them, and then seed them before blending. It will take you a bit longer for preparation, but the soup is perfect for a cool summer evening with a sourdough bread grilled cheese and ham panini. Yummmmm.
I know you’ll love it.
Summer Tomato Soup
Makes a large stockpot
4# garden fresh plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
10 or so garlic cloves
2 sweet onions, diced
32 oz. tomato paste (4 small cans)
4C low sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
handful of fresh herbs (tarragon, parsley, chives, basil, rosemary)
sea salt and pepper to taste
Directions: In a large stockpot, heat the EVOO and sauté the fennel, sweet onion, and garlic until tender. Do not let it brown. You can cover the pot and let the steam cook it, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are soft, pour the mixture (in batches if you have to) in the blender and process until smooth. Carefully pour the puréed mixture back into the stockpot. Keep warm while you prepare the tomatoes.
Core the tomatoes and place half of the tomatoes in the blender with 2C of the chicken stock. Process until fully puréed. In my Vita-Mix it takes about 40 seconds. The seeds and skin should not be visible. Pour the tomato purée into the stockpot with the fennel mixture. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes and stock. Add the tomato paste and sugar to the stockpot and stir until the tomato paste has dissolved. If you want your soup thicker, add a small can of tomato paste.
Simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste. To serve, sprinkle with the minced herbs. You can also drop a small dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche on top.
In March, my husband and I spend a long weekend on Martha’s Vineyard relaxing, biking, and visiting farms. Martha’s Vineyard is so much more enjoyable when the summer people aren’t there to crowd the streets and beaches. We had beautiful weather and got to spend some time at South Beach in Katama.
On our way to South Beach we passed by an inviting sign on Aero Avenue. Needless to say, we quickly turned around, drove down the dusty dirt road past a few Cape style homes to the end of the road and landed at the FARM Institute. We were warmly greeted by Chrissy Kinsman, the Marketing and Development Director, who was pruning fruit trees right outside the barn. Chrissy gave us a tour of The FARM Institute, we were introduced to the farmers and a few staff, and then we talked some about sustainable farming and the FARM’s mission. After a couple hours of chatting, Todd and I were so impressed by what they are doing that we left left with 60 pounds of grass fed-grass finished beef, pasture raised pork, lamb, whole chickens, and 5 dozen eggs. The wagon was fully loaded! Make sure your meat is fully pasture raised, not just “grass-fed”. Look for grass finished and/or pasture raised. When it’s corn or grain finished it loses all of the healthful qualities. For more information on the health benefits of pasture raised meat, click here.
The meat is amazing. If you have not had pasture raised meat, you need to find some in your area. Go to EatWild.com if you don’t know where to start looking. Not only is pastured beef delicious, it’s much leaner and loaded with more heart-healthy nutrients and vitamins. The meat from the FARM Institute has its own terroir flavor – kind of like a wine that takes on the flavor of where it’s grown. We can’t get enough of the FARM’s meat. So…when my husband reminded me of his yearly father-daughter fishing trip was coming up, I decided to go back to the Vineyard and visit the FARM Institute again – with a bigger cooler.
If you are interested in buying their meat when you’re on the Vineyard, you can pre-order online. They also do farmer’s market trips on the Cape. Call and check with them first to see where they’ll be. It’s so worth the trip. From their website: “All of our meat is raised here at The FARM Institute. All chicken and pork is pasture raised and all beef and lamb is 100% grass-fed. We use management intensive rotational grazing practices for all livestock ensuring the best life for our animals and our fields! We invite you to find out what most islanders already know–local food tastes better! All meat products are only available for pick up at The FARM Institute. When you place your order we will assemble your purchase and get it ready for you to pick it up. All of our meat products are frozen. Poultry is processed on site; beef, pork and lamb are all processed at a USDA approved slaughterhouse in Rhode Island.”
See you in the fall, FARM Institute!
Total Cooking Time: 2 – 2.5 hours with a pressure cooker**
Makes large stockpot of soup
2-3# grass fed, lean beef shank (about 4) or short ribs
10C low-sodium beef stock (I like the unsalted, organic boxed ones)
10 garlic cloves, 6 cut in half, 4 minced
1C pearl barley
1C full-bodied red wine
1C chopped carrots (about 4-5 carrots)
1C chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1 box (26.5oz) of Pomi chopped tomatoes
1T sea salt
1T fresh, coarse ground pepper
2 fresh bay leaves
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
In a large pressure cooker on medium-high heat, heat the EVOO and brown the beef on both sides. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, but watch out for a steam burn! Add enough of the beef stock to cover the meat, about 6 cups. Loosen the meat from the bottom of the pan if it’s stuck and try to scrape up any tasty bits of meat. Add the 6 halved garlic cloves, bay leaves, the tiny leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, the sea salt, and coarse ground pepper. Close and lock the lid, bring up to full pressure (look for the two white rings that pop up), then turn down the heat to simmer or low to maintain the pressure. Pressure cook for 1.5 hours. During this time the meat will fall off the bone and the healthy marrow will dissolve into the broth.
After 1.5 hours, shut the heat off, let the pressure come down on it’s own, open the cover of the pressure cooker, and let it rest for a few minutes. Strain the meat and stock over a large stockpot, letting the aromatic broth drain through, but catching the meat and bones in the sieve. Set meat and bones aside to cool.
Add the rest of the boxed beef stock, the box of Pomi chopped tomatoes, the leaves of thyme from the remaining thyme stems, 4 minced garlic cloves, and the barley. Bring to a boil and turn to simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. This is the time to pick through the meat that you set aside.
After 30 minutes, add the carrots, onions, and meat. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes or until the barley is done cooking. I like the barley al-denté, but you may like it softer.
Adjust seasonings to your taste.
Serve with warm rolls, fresh butter, and a California Cabernet Sauvignon.