Saturday, August 4, 2012

South Of The Border Gazpacho

There are so many things I love about gazpacho that I don't even know where to begin!

The first time I ever tried gazpacho was during my junior year of college when I spent a semester studying abroad is Seville, Spain.  I lived with a family and my host mom could put together a rockin pot of Sevillano gazpacho.  Out of respect to her genius and that beautiful city, I'll never ever try and recreate it.

The second truly memorable bowl of gazpacho I had was at a little Spanish restaurant in St Augustine, FL.  Sometimes my job sends me fun places and I spent a week in Florida last February.  My boss, coworker and I ventured into Old Town St Augustine one night and stumbled upon an absolute gem of a restaurant  (now if only I remembered the name).  Anyways, they served gazpacho as a simple chilled tomato broth topped with all of the gazpacho fixing to be mixed in by the patron.  It was an interesting take on the dish that I had never seen before, but I liked it so I tried to tie it into today's recipe.

The next thing I'm loving about gazpacho is that it fits perfectly into this week's SOUP theme on the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange hosted by Gimme Some Oven and Bake Your Day.  This week's prize giveaway is an awesome set from Le Creuset and as always the project is benefiting American tomato farmers through Recipes For Change.

With all this great gazpacho inspiration, I knew I wanted to try something a little different... a little spicy... a little south of the border.  How this recipe actually came about though was through a manic shopping trip at Trader Joe's.  I had about ten minutes to spare before I was going to miss my train so with no list in hand I sprinted through the store grabbing anything and everything that might work in gazpacho (check out my loot below) and I figured I'd sort out the rest when I got home.  And you know what, sometimes mass randomness turns out to be the world's best ingredient because this gazpacho is awesome!  It is just spicy enough and focuses on the flavors of the individual ingredients instead of being weighed down with seasonings.  It also makes a huge batch.  Small One and I each had a big bowl for dinner last night, I ate it again for dinner tonight, and there is still plenty left for me to pack in my lunch for work all week.  Score!

-64 oz bottle of tomato based vegetable juice
-12 oz jar of salsa (we used medium)
-2 beefsteak tomatoes, rough chopped
-1-2 red chili peppers
-Handful of cilantro
-1 tsp garlic powder
-2 tsp cumin

-1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed.
-1 cup of baby heriloom tomatoes (or grape tomatoes), quartered
-1/2 cup of red onion, chopped
-1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
-1 green pepper, chopped
-2 ears of fire roasted corn, corn cut from the ear

-Sour cream
-Sliced avacado

For the base of the gazpacho, pour the entire bottle of vegetable juice into a pot or a very large bowl and set aside.  To the bowl of a food processor, fit with a steel blade, add the contents of 1 jar of salsa, 2 large tomatoes, 2 red chili peppers, and a handful of cilantro.  Use your best judgement when it comes to the chili peppers as if you aren't careful you will add some serious heat.  The ones I used weren't exceptionally spicy, otherwise I would only suggest using one.  Process the ingredients for about 30 seconds or until almost smooth.  Add the contents of the food processor to the pot and stir gently.  Finally mix in the garlic powder and cumin.  Taste the soup to see if it needs any salt.  Ours didn't since bottled tomato juice typically has a pretty high sodium content.

For the vegetables, I like to add half of the chopped veggies to the gazpacho, and save the other half in small bowls on the side to top the soup when serving.  It is a nice way for everyone to get exactly what they want.  If this seems like too much work, go ahead and throw all of the veggies in at once.

Last summer, we found a Smitten Kitchen recipe that involved indoor fire roasted corn and we decided to incorporate it into this recipe.  It is pretty simple to do, and adds a nice smoky flavor to the corn. Simply turn on one gas burner and slowly turn a husked (but not cooked) ear of corn in the flame until it is well charred.  If you don't have a gas stove or don't want to go to the trouble of fire roasting, boiling or oven roasting will work just as well!  Regardless of how you cook it, when the corn is ready to go, use a large knife to trim the whole kernels from the cob and add them to the soup.

Chill the gazpacho in the refrigerator until mealtime.  To serve, we topped ours with sour cream, avocado slices, and the remaining black beans, tomatoes, onion, mushroom, pepper, and corn.  The different textures made every bite a surprise!

Keep on feeling the TOMATO LOVE!

Tall One

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