I got the idea for this recipe on a trip to Spain, and think of it a lot in the dog days of summer. For something so easy to make, the result is an extremely nuanced bowl of flavor, good to the last slurp. I mean who’d have thought strawberries, tomatoes, basil and fresh garlic would be so happy in a blender together?
Prepare to be surprised!
This savory-sweet gazpacho is ideal for using up farmer’s market finds before it’s too late. I want to make this soup every time I pass big mounds of fragrant strawberries at the Watauga here in North Carolina. Though strawberry season in the southeast runs from December through March, they still taste wonderful and overflow at famer’s markets this time of year.
It surprises me how versatile strawberries are. I’ve found they taste excellent with a little pepper sprinkled on them, and in this treatment they get blended into a classic savory gazpacho. The recipe is so refreshing (emphasis on the word fresh) that it made it into my upcoming cookbook CANVAS & CUISINE – a travel diary of food and art. This cookbook loves to linger in the cobblestone streets of old Europe, and features many a Mediterranean and Spanish dish – so if you like tapas, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter to learn more about my new cookbook’s release later this year.
This chilled soup comes from the heart of Madrid. I was on a Tapas Pub Crawl, visiting local taverns and sampling their bar cuisine. One item that appeared time and again on those menus were chilled shot glasses full of spicy vegetable soup called Gazpacho. My home version adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries to the mix. The flavor combo is so good, you might just break into a flamenco dance!
Gazpacho with Strawberries and Basil
Serves 4 to 6
20 Minute Cuisine plus chilling
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, about 6
½ English cucumber, diced, about 1 cup
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced, about 1 cup
1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced, about ½ cup
1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed and halved, about 2 cups
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 slice white bread, soaked in water
1 cup homemade vegetable broth, or prepared low sodium vegetable broth
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 to 4 drops hot pepper sauce
Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove top. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cut an “x” with a sharp knife at one end of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water until the skin begins to wrinkle and split at the “x”, about 45 to 50 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the pot and place into the ice water. Peel the skin from the tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half and squeeze gently to remove most of the seeds. Place the tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cucumber, red pepper and onion. Pulse to combine. Pour the veggies into a bowl.
Place the strawberries into the food processor and pulse until chopped. Stir the strawberries into the veggies. Reserve 1 cup of the strawberries and veggies. Pour the rest back into the bowl of the food processor. Add the garlic and basil. Squeeze the excess water from the bread and add to the bowl. Pulse until the mixture is pureed.
Pour back into the bowl. Stir in the stock, olive oil and vinegar. Stir in the reserved 1 cup strawberries and veggies. Season with salt and hot pepper sauce. Place the soup into the fridge and chill for several hours. Serve the soup with a garnish of fresh basil and a slice of strawberry.
I’ve made this gazpacho both ways – sometimes I de-seed the tomatoes and sometimes I don’t. If you want to skip that step and let the ingredients marry in a pot first, then simply blend them together, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!