Monday, August 17, 2009

Gazpacho con fruta - fruity gazpacho

This soup is only as good as the ingredients you use. Choose summer fresh, ripe juicy fruits and tomatoes, the best you can find. I chose my fruit and veggies at the farmer's market, the supermarket produce pales by comparison. I used ripe nectarines and pears, but you can also use peaches, strawberries and other seasonal fruits. For tomatoes I chose early girls and zebra green varieties.

Tomatoes are absolutely fascinating! The word "Tomato" comes from the original "Xitomatl", a combination of Nahuatl words alluding to the fruit's roundness, Tomatl, and the fruit's round marking resembling a belly button, Xictli. In some ancient American cultures the word for belly button also alludes to round, universal "centers", like the center of the earth or the center of the universe. I'm sure the ancient people of the Americas really thought highly of this fruit! The Nahuatl word Xitomatl later evolved to Jitomate (pronounced Hee-Toh-Mah-Teh in Spanish) and finally to Tomato, in English.

Gazpacho, the original Spanish chilled soup didn't contain tomatoes. This wonderful fruit was first cultivated in Mexico, and didn't make it to Europe until the 1500's, where it was originally believed to be poisonous. My version of this delicious summer soup is reminiscent of gazpacho and Mexican "salsa cruda", or a raw vegetable sauce that uses a variety of raw vegetables, and some times fruit. This soup recipe makes two servings and it can be doubled. You'll need the following ingredients:

  • Two cups of roughly chopped tomatoes, previously peeled and seeded
  • One cup of cubed cucumber, previously peeled and seeded
  • One ripe nectarine, sliced
  • One ripe pear, sliced
  • One cup of sliced red bell pepper
  • One tablespoon of chopped red onion
  • One quarter cup of seasoned Japanese rice vinegar, or more, as needed
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, or more, to emulsify
  • About two tablespoons of chopped fruit and veggies, to garnish
Prepare the tomatoes by scoring the skin with a knife in the shape of an "X". Dunk them in rapildy boiling water, then in iced water. Start removing the skins where you scored them. Squeeze the tomatoes on a strainer, save the juice but discard the seeds. Blend the tomatoes with the remaining ingredients, adding the vinegar and oil slowly. You may need to process all the fruits and veggies in batches, adding more oil and vinegar as you blend. Chill your gazpacho for a few minutes, then serve and garnish as desired. The fruits and veggies in this soup are so sweet and lucious it doesn't need any other seasoning!

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