Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking
There are people – even some intelligent people whom I know and like – who dismiss gazpacho as cold tomato soup. Well guess what: it is a kind of cold tomato soup. But it’s not just tomato soup that’s gone cold: it’s special.
And – the two vital considerations for Bloke in the Kitchen – it’s delicious and it’s easy.
It’s a starter really, but can be your whole lunch if you like.
The concept of chilled soup is alien to many, because in the cool countries we’re brought up with the idea of soup as a meal to warm us up on a cold day. But just turn that on its head: in a hot country or on a hot day, soup can be something that helps cool you down.
And it’s all raw vegetables; think of the vitamins and minerals you’re getting.
It takes about ten minutes to make and then it needs to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to get really cold. Some people put ice in it, but remember, ice is water and water dilutes flavours. So just give it plenty of time to chill.
This is a starter really, but could be your whole lunch if you like.
Juicing a bucketload of tomatoes would take a long time, but you don’t have to do that. We’re going to use V8, which is tomato juice with other vegetables – beets, celery, carrots, lettuce, parsley, watercress and spinach. And it is already liquid, so all we have to do is open it. Then we add cucumber (just the flesh – peel it and scrape out the seeds, keeping the juice if you can) and some spices to enrich the flavor.
This recipe has a kick at the back of the throat, partly from the hot pepper but also the garlic.
Large bottle of V8 vegetable juice.
Cucumber (a six-inch piece is about right for two people, peeled, deseeded)
Garlic (one clove, crushed)
Ground black pepper
Jalapeno or cayenne powder
If you want to make this really spicy with the sort of kick that will stop the cynics in their tracks, use a fresh chilli, but be careful to taste the soup and make sure your guests can handle it. And warn them. If it’s too hot, all you can do is add some more of everything else to spread out the heat.
Shake the juice and pour into a blender.
Peel and deseed the cucumber, cut into three-inch pieces.
Crush the garlic and add to the mixture
Add a little celery salt and some table salt, plus ground black pepper, a dash of cumin and a little shake of the hot powder. Squeeze in a dash of lime or lemon juice and give it a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a slight glug of olive oil. Take it easy with all of these. You can add more later but you can’t take them out.
Blend it until the cucumber has disappeared.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Pour into a large bowl, such as a salad bowl.
Chill it for at least two hours. If time is short, put it in the freezer for a while, but don’t forget it.
Serve in soup bowls or pasta bowls, each with a cilantro or parsley leaf floating on top – just for garnish.
Eat with some fresh, crisp French bread and butter.