It is that time of the year when a spicy chili, creamy chowder or hearty stew just doesn’t appeal because of the hot sunny days and warm starlit nights of the Texas Hill Country summer. So with the blessed rain this year and now that your garden is producing abundantly, or you just went to a farmer’s market, put those fresh vegetables to good use. This month I have three tasty, healthy chilled summer soups that are very easy to make with locally purchased goods. We start with a White Gazpacho made with cucumbers and grapes, then a Rustic Red Gazpacho made from tomatoes and garden vegetables, and we finish up with a Crème of Guacamole topped with the original Shigefumi Tachibe’s Tuna Tartare.
These are quick, easy to make, good looking delights that please almost everybody, once they taste them. Some chefs refer to them as Liquid Salads. Served with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling, a sweet mint tea or even a gin and Fever Tree tonic over cracked clear ice, they will make a summer meal a truly refreshing experience.
White Gazpacho comes originally from the Andalusian area of Spain. It was being made by peasants before Columbus introduced tomatoes to Spain in the late 1400’s. I discovered White Gazpacho when I participated in the first Flavors of the Napa Valley Food Enthusiast course at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California several years ago. When I saw it on the recipe list I was a bit apprehensive of a cold white soup, until I enjoyed the first spoonful. This is a creamy soup that is not overly rich and contains no cream.
Andalusian White Gazpacho
Yield: 3 to 4 lunch courses or 6 appetizer portions
• ½ cup whites of leeks or shallots, sliced thin and washed
• 3 slices cubed white sandwich bread, crusts removed
• 20 green table grapes, washed
• ¼ cup blanched almond slivers (roasted Marcona almonds work, too)
• 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
• 2½ cups peeled, split and seeded cucumbers
• 1 tablespoon sour cream
• ¼ cup good quality EVOO olive oil (if it smells good, it will taste good)
• 2 cups cold water
• 1 tablespoon salt
Directions: -Cook leeks (shallots) in a medium-size sauté pan over medium-low heat until translucent and tender, then chill in refrigerator until you need them.
-Combine all ingredients in a good blender and purée until very smooth.
-Season with Kosher salt, adjusting amount to taste.
-Serve very cold in chilled bowls.
-Top with Chive Oil, slivered blanched or finely chopped almonds and a few thin grape slices.
One bunch fresh chives blended with 1 cup grapeseed oil and a little salt (keeps for two weeks in the refrigerator).
Traditional Rustic Gazpacho
• 4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into ½” chunks (Heirlooms are the best if you can find them)
• 1 large English cucumber—peeled, halved and cut into ½” chunks
• 1 Green bell pepper, cut into ½” pieces
• 1 Yellow bell pepper cut to ½” pieces
• 1 Zucchini cut into ½” pieces
• 1 cup chopped sweet yellow onion
• ¾ cup of celery chopped to ½” dice
• 1 garlic clove, smashed
• 2 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro (optional)
• 3 cups V8 vegetable juice or Zing Zang Regular Bloody Mary Mix (for the more adventurous)
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• Salt to taste
• Chopped pickled jalapenos for those that want them
-Place all the ingredients in a large plastic bowl and stir.
-Place V8 or Zing Zang Regular Bloody Mary Mix, vinegar, garlic and
lime juice in a food processor and blend until mixed well.
-Pour over the vegetables and mix well.
-Optional Step: place four cups of the soup at a time in the food processor and PULSE several times until it is the desired look that you want. Repeat with the balance of the soup.
-Serve in chilled bowls.
-Top with a dollop of sour cream, Crème Fraiche or unflavored yogurt and a bit of cilantro.
-Optional toppings could be seafood ceviche, lump crab meat, lobster claws or cocktail shrimp.
Chilled Guacamole Soup with Tuna Tartare or Small Cocktail Shrimp
Yield: 4 main servings or 6 starter servings
• 2 cups homemade Guacamole (HEB fresh-made is what I use)
• 2 cups buttermilk
• 1½ cups clam juice
• 1 cup ice water
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste
Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth and pour into chilled bowls.
Shigefumi Tachibe’s Tuna Tartare (optional)
• 1 pound sushi grade tuna (Ahi if possible) cut into quarter-inch dice (Groomer’s is a good source)
• 2 very fresh or pasteurized egg yolks
• 6 ounces olive oil
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet pickles
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped capers
• 1 pinch minced tarragon
• 1 tablespoon crushed green or pink peppercorns
• 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
• Lemon zest
-Slowly whisk olive oil and Dijon mustard into the egg yolks to make a creamy mayonnaise.
-Mix the tarragon and chives with the chopped vegetables and other seasonings, and then add lemon juice. Sprinkle salt and black pepper on top.
-Pour Guacamole soup in a chilled bowl to a 1”depth.
-Gently spoon some of the Tuna Tartare on the soup and then cracked pepper & lemon zest to taste.
-Some dots of the Chive Oil from the first recipe make this an elegant soup.
There is a saying in Spain that goes: “De gazpacho no hay empacho”. In English: “There is never enough gazpacho”.
Enjoy the summer and let me know how you enjoy these soups at email@example.com.