On the Verge Gazpacho

Push it to the limit with this hot & cold Spanish elixir.

Since the heat here hasn’t abated, I thought I’d apply the ice with a recipe yoinked from the restaurant where I first learned how to cook as a college student – a long-defunct café, owned and operated by a Greek family, that offered light Mediterranean-inspired fare as well as traditional classics like gyros and spanakopita. Their baklava and “health nut” bran muffins sold out daily, and we were sucked dry of this soup in the summer. One such summer I had the opportunity to see a local screening of the hilarious Pedro Almodovar classic “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” – which, as you know if you’ve seen it, takes gazpacho to entirely new places.

In honor of that film – not to advocate drugging anyone ever, by accident or on purpose! – I’ve spiked it a little, but sherry vinegar is already traditional, so sherry isn’t that much of a stretch. I’ve also swapped their green pepper for anaheim for just a bit more kick, and in place of garlic powder I threw in a whole clove. They used V8, but I opted for a minimally processed tomato juice.

I realized belatedly I’ve been a tad tomato-philic on this blog, and there are still some who claim this “deadly nightshade” is a bad, bad food. I guess if that’s true, I’ve been a really naughty girl. Bad, bad Missus P. If you decide to be naughty with me, this soup should leave you refreshed and on the verge. Not of a nervous breakdown, but a full-on tomato-gasm. OPA!*

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. ripe red tomatoes, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 anaheim pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 (1/2 bunch) green onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c parsley, cleaned and de-stemmed
  • 12 oz tomato juice
  • 1/4 c sherry
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • dash tabasco sauce
  • Parsley and lemon for garnish

In a food processor or blender blend the tomatoes, tomato juice, olive oil, and garlic into a chunky-smooth puree and pour into a large bowl. Add the sherry, vinegar, seasonings and spices. Place the pepper, onion, cucumber, and parsley in the processor and pulse into finely chopped chunks. Fold them into the bowl and chill your soup at least an hour to get it cold and let the flavors get it on. Add salt and/or pepper (or tabasco!) to taste, and serve garnished with lemon and parsley. It’s well paired with a nice big hunk of peasant bread, although I’ll often mix my cuisines and have it with tortilla chips. Serves about 4 (about 4 cups).

*A Greek expression that means everything from “oops” to “yowza!” I should probably say provecho as this is a Spanish soup, but that one was for the Fotos clan.

Plant things, you make my heart sing.

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