Summer in a cup....Bliss in a bowl....a little taste of heaven...call it what you want. I call it fresh summer Gazpacho and I want it NOW. Don't think of it as raw vegetable soup, because it's not. Well, it kinda is. Sort of. Yeah, well, okay, okay...it is. But it's not what you think. Whether you're pulling fresh vegetables out of your own backyard garden, or hauling them home from the farmer's market, there's no better way to showcase the flavors of summer's bounty than by whipping up a batch of gazpacho. The chilled, fresh flavor of summer tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers and herbs are too delicious for words. I've tried. There are no words. So I'll be quiet now.
1 large cucumber, seeds removed (no need to peel)
2 med. red bell peppers, seeds removed
4 plum tomatoes (or 2-3 vine ripe tomatoes)
1 med. red onion
Chop the veggies into 1-inch cubes and place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Do not over process. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add:
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups tomato juice or V-8 (mild or spicy if you like it hot)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Dash (or more) hot sauce
Combine all ingredients and chill at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Serve in bowls or margarita glasses with toasted garlic bread. If desired, top with chilled shrimp or crab (this is heavenly). Garnish with fresh herbs, sour cream, or avocado.
Makes 4 servings.