Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dinner in a Flash: Summery Soup Edition

Today's recipe isn't exactly new, in fact, I wrote about it last summer. But that was before I realized I was writing a food blog here; before I was smart enough to take pictures. And certainly before I was in possession of this nifty new serving set I picked up at Bennington Potters last week.

Because the lighting scheme in my kitchen is similar to a bat cave, the photo doesn't really capture the beautiful aubergine finish; its gorgeous. Everything at Bennington Potters is gorgeous. If you ever find yourself in the area, by all means stop in and browse around. The craftsmanship is exceptional, everything made by hand, and they will happily give you a tour of their studio. Its a wonderful place to spend an hour or so.

Anyway, my pretty new piece - coupled with yesterday's extreme heat- seemed like a good enough excuse to revisit this simple summer soup. No need to fuss with the slicing and dicing, you'll be using a food processor so a rough chop will do. Serve it with some crunchy tortilla chips and a nice big salad, as I did, and I promise you won't even break a sweat.

Zesty Red Bell Pepper Gazpacho:
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped coarsely
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • one 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread, crust removed (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt
  • dash of Tobasco Sauce, to taste
  • 1 or 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • minced fresh parsley or cilantro (or both!)
  • several wedges of fresh lemon
  • some crushed blue corn tortilla chips
Using a food processor, pulse the red peppers until they are pureed. Add the jalapeño, garlic, celery and carrots and pulse on high until the mixture is finely ground - stopping to push down the contents of the bowl as needed. Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, lime and lemon juice and vinegar, and puree until smooth. Tear the whole wheat bread into pieces, add to the soup and puree on high until smooth.

With the food processor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube and allow the soup and oil to blend until smooth. Add the celery salt, a generous grind of fresh black pepper and the chopped cilantro and pulse until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding the Tobasco Sauce, if desired, and some Kosher salt if necessary. If the mixture is too thick, you may add @ 1/4 cup of water or so, if desired, and pulse again to combine.

Pour the soup into a large container, cover, and chill in the fridge for one hour (or up to 24 hrs.) before serving. Garnish the soup with the minced red onion, some chopped parsley or cilantro (or both!) and serve with a large wedge of fresh lemon to be sprinkled over the soup at table.

As written, this recipe will serve @ 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course.

Careful readers will note the absence of cucumber - and this should come as no surprise. I'm not a fan. The recipe, however, is extremely flexible - so feel free to add or subtract what you will. Ditto for the spices and seasonings. I've made this soup dozens of times and I doubt I've ever made it the same way twice. Yesterday I included some Jim Beam Hot Sauce and a pinch of Hot Hungarian Paprika for fun. Taste and adjust to your own liking and the results will be magnificent, I'm sure.

Bon appetite!



Oh my god that recipe sounds do delicious! I might try and make it. I hope your diet gets back on track after the eating out fiasco. Love your blog!


pixelgal said...

In the Podunk Press here in the burbs, I read that the jalapeno is also one of the forbidden veges lately. Seems they invite those unwelcome guests to dinner--Sam 'n Ella--or at least they MIGHT, according to some reports. Like the formerly verboten tomato which is now cool once again, I guess you need to take this with a grain of salt...and pepper! But ask just the same if the grocer has heard ot this.

The Diva on a Diet said...

You're right, pixelgal, there is an issue with some of the jalapeños. I think its those processed in Mexico that are tainted.

That being said, I was cooking with jalapenos all through the Sam 'n Ella crisis and no one died! LOL

My advice is to try and use locally grown peppers. We should all be using the local ingredients more and more in any case!

Good point though, and if anyone is worried about them, you can always leave the jalapeños out ... just don't substitute the pickled ones!

The Diva on a Diet said...

jamjarsuperstar - thanks so much for checking out my blog! By all means make the gazpacho - you won't be disappointed - and then come back and tell me how you like it! :)

Thanks again!

Deb said...

Gazpacho sounds yummy Diva.

Helpful extra hint for dining out - I check out on line menus for restaurants if available and make up my order in advance - log it into Sparks and know where I stand ahead of time.

Good luck with all your extracurricular dining!


Brett said...

Great post, love the blog.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Deb - that's a great tip! I'll give it a go and hope the restaurants we're visiting will have the menus online. So far, so good ... as you can see from today's post. Thanks a bunch and keep the tips coming!

Brett - Welcome to my little corner of the blog-o-sphere and thanks for dropping in! I will certainly return the favor. Stop by any time!

Anonymous said...

Yummy looking and sounding soup!

I have similar bat cave lighting issues. And, it seems lately that every time I have food to photograph that a thunder and lightening storm blows in so that I can't go outside to get a decent shot. Sigh. It's difficult being a food blogger, isn't it?

The Diva on a Diet said...

Dana - yes, it is difficult! Woe is us! Perhaps we should have a drink?! ;)

I wish I had the outdoor option, as I'm told its the best way to shoot food. Gah, I get so frustrated with the whole photography aspect. I'm never at a loss for words or ideas for what to cook ... but the picture thing is maddening. I need a professional photographer!

Megan said...

That gazpacho looks delicious! And I love your new serving dish!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Thanks, Megan! :)

Tangled Noodle said...

Your photos look great! I made myself a light tent out of cardboard box and tissue paper but it's a PITA because I have to leave it out on the dining room table - very unsightly. I don't doubt that the color of your new serving set is gorgeous - the form is quite lovely. As for this soup, I've never tried gazpacho before so this would be quite new for me!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tangled Noodle - you are so enterprising! I keep meaning to buy a lightbox and I haven't even gotten around to that! Good for you for making it yourself. And, actually, part of the reason I haven't bought one is the storage issue. I'm running out of space!

As for the gazpacho, its a great way to use summer produce. Typically, its made with tomatoes and cucumbers - but I tend to prefer this version. Throw whatever you like into the mix and it will all be delicious!

aoife mc said...

I love love LOVE gazpacho and all types of cold soup.

I had the most AMAZING chilled beetroot soup with vodka creme fraiche and ginger running throughout it last week at an unplanned lunch. You can imagine my horror when I realised I didn't have my camera. Egad, it was the most beautiful purple colour...

This recipe looks fab and I might have to give it a go myself. We're hitting 20 degrees and 21 degrees these days in Dublin so a bit of cold soup would go down very well indeed!

Barbara Jacksier said...

Just a big thank you. I made your gazpacho last night and its amazing.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Hi Aoife - I agree, in this weather, cold soup is the ticket! Love the sound of the chilled beet soup with ginger ... heavenly!

Barbara - thank you so much! You can't imagine how happy that makes me. You've made my day!!! :)