Tomato season makes me happy. This soup, a light gazpacho or raw tomato soup, makes me extremely happy. It's easy to make and the cold and clear flavor is a refreshing way to start a summer meal.The catch, of course, is that this soup depends entirely on the quality of your tomatoes, so you've got to eat a slice and make sure the tomatoes are worthy before proceeding. If you don't sigh inwardly and think "Ah, that's a great tomato!" then you'll have to hold off.
Recipe: Delicate Tomato Soup
The recipe makes ~6 starter-sized servings.
*Update: a wise commenter noted that this soup would be great with shrimp or mussels. I've included instructions for a seaood variation at the bottom of the recipe.*
1 lb tomatoes [~4 medium-sized], preferably home-grown and/or heirloom
1 cucumber, peeled [divided use]
1 bell pepper, any color but green [divided use]
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 cups water
1 clove of garlic
juice of 1 lemon [divided use]
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Chop all of the tomatoes, and half of the cucumber and bell pepper. Smash the garlic clove and put it in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Transfer chopped veggies to a colander or large strainer and set over the bowl, scraping any accumulated juices from the cutting board into the container as well. Toss contents with salt and let sit 30-60 minutes or overnight.
Gently press solids with a spatula or spoon. The tomatoes should disintegrate, leaving only skins behind, while the cucumber and pepper solids remain intact. Discard solids and garlic clove [or save for a pasta sauce]. Add water to the collected juice and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hr. Meanwhile, fine dice remaining cucumber, bell pepper halves and the shallot, putting each into a separate small bowl. Squeeze 1/2 the lemon juice over the shallot to take off the sharp edge.
Stir soup to recombine liquids and solids, adjust salt, then ladle into 6 individual cups or bowls. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into each, drizzle with a little olive oil, then grind a little black pepper over the top. Serve with garnish options.
Spicy garnish options:
diced jalepeno, seeded
More Traditional Gazpacho:
Puree tomatoes with bell pepper, cucumber, water, and 2 slices of bread.
Chill. Serve with garnishes as above.
*Light Seafood Gazpacho:
After the vegetable solids have been pressed and removed, fill a large bowl with ice and a little water. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a simmer in a large skillet and add ~1 lb small peeled shrimp or shellfish, cover, and steam a few minutes until the shrimp pink or the shellfish open. With a slotted spoon, transfer the seafood to the water bath to quickly cool them off. Strain the cooking liquid into a measuring cup, add enough ice to make 2 cups and use this seafood broth in place of the called for water in the recipe. Transfer seafood to a paper towel lined airtight container and chill along with broth. Distribute evenly among servings.