Our April showers have happily brought us May flowers. Buds are bursting into bloom everywhere, and Bob has successfully foiled our mischievous chickens from hopping up on the coop roof, so I can once again plant flowers there.
May also brings us a little closer to Sam’s high school graduation. As I was digging through a box in the closet the other day, I came upon a cookbook that his second grade class had made featuring their favorite soups. I stopped what I was doing and plopped down on the floor to page through it, memories of helping him choose a soup for this project rushing back. Second grade. How have the past ten years gone by so quickly?
Sam’s contribution to this collection was gazpacho and it remains a favorite of his. With graduation and birthday celebrations on the horizon, I have been thinking about festive meals to make and gazpacho will be a terrific addition to one of these celebratory menus.
Gazpacho is a refreshingly chilled soup that is full of flavor and texture. With the hot summer days to come, it’s also a wonderful choice as the only cooking involves roasting some red peppers, which can easily be done on the barbecue while you’re hanging out in the backyard. I like little flecks of charred pepper in my soup, so after roasting them I remove the seeds but leave much of the blackened skin on. The peppers are pureed and then chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and parsley are added for a chunky texture. I’ve added some pickled jalapenos for a spicy kick, too, along with lemon and lime juice for a bright finish.
Over this past gloriously sunny weekend, Sam finished off the gazpacho and it's still his favorite soup. Where has all the time gone?
4 red bell peppers
2 pounds tomatoes (roughly 6 medium)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 large cucumber, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon pickled jalapenos (or more to taste), diced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sliced avocado to garnish (optional)
Preheat your broiler or barbecue on high. If using the broiler, place the peppers on a baking sheet and pop them under. If using the barbecue, place the peppers on the grill, lower the heat a bit and close the cover. Check on the peppers every few minutes, and turn them so that they blacken and soften evenly. When they are quite soft, remove from the heat and let cool.
Open the peppers (careful for all the liquid that will pour out) and remove the seeds and stem. Place them in the bowl of a food processor. Roughly chop half of the tomatoes and add them to the peppers. Puree until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the parsley, garlic, cucumber and pickled jalapenos to the food processor and pulse a few times until chunky. Add to the bowl of puree.
Dice the remaining tomatoes and add them to the soup. Stir in the lemon and lime juices, salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Cover and chill the soup for at least 2 hours or for up to one day. Taste again for seasoning before serving with sliced avocado, if desired.