In South Florida, there are two seasons. Hot and swelter. Starting right around Memorial Day and usually lasting through November it’s swelter. That’s not an exaggeration. Hot is 85° and lower than 50% humidity. Swelter is 88° and humidity of 60-70% (that’s a feels like temp of mid-upper 90s). The kind of suffocating experience that immediately draws beads of sweat across your upper lip and a constant dribble of perspiration running down your back. Cold soups are made for this weather – and this refreshing Chunky Garden Gazpacho is sweat’s nemesis.
This simple soup is little more than chopping and blending. It starts with fresh garden vegetables, cut into a very small dice.
You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand for this gazpacho. On this day in my refrigerator there were hothouse cucumbers, a lone zucchini, several sweet bell peppers, corn and roma tomatoes — although — no — my tomatoes reside in the veggie bin on the counter. Do not EVER place a tomato in the refrigerator, unless mealy, flavorless produce is “your thing”.
Season up the vegetables with lots of fresh garlic, a little vinegar, olive oil and the juice of a whole lime.
Then add the tomato juice. I like to use low-sodium tomato juice or V-8 because too much sodium is a bad thing for blood pressure.
If you like really chunky gazpacho you can skip this next step, but I like to blend about half of the soup in the food processor. Eight or nine pulses will chop the vegetables a little finer and give the soup body.
Refrigerate the soup for several hours until it’s icy cold and the flavors have a chance to marry. You can even leave it in the fridge overnight for greater depth.
Just before serving, stir in some chopped cilantro.
And toast some sourdough bread crumbs for a crunchy topping to the chilled soup.
This is like summer in a bowl! It’s fresh and light with great texture. Serve it with some crusty bread and a chilled sauvignon blanc. It’s perfect for the oppressive heat, no sweat!
Chunky Garden Gazpacho
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper 1/4" dice
- 1/2 orange bell pepper 1/4" dice
- 1 large plum tomato 1/4" dice
- 1 medium zucchini 1/4" dice
- 1/2 hothouse cucumber 1/4" dice
- 1 large ear corn
- 1/2 cup white onion very finely diced
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- 3 cups low-sodium tomato juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped +more for garnish
- 1 slice rustic sourdough bread for garnish (optional)
- favorite hot sauce for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and tomato. Cut the kernels off the corn cob and add to the vegetable mixture. Stir in the white onion and garlic and add the vinegar, lime juice, olive oil and tomato juice. Stir to combine, cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Tear the bread into chunks and place them in a mini-prep food processor. Pulse several times until ragged, chunky bread crumbs form. Toss with olive oil and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy and lightly toasted.
- Just before serving, add cilantro and stir to combine. Spoon soup into bowls. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cilantro. Serve with hot sauce on the side.
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