Gazpacho with Tomato Basil Oil

The saying goes that you gotta make hay when the sun shines. Well, I'd like to add my own version: You gotta make gazpacho soup when the days are hot and the tomatoes are ripe! Gazpacho is a traditional chilled soup made by blending the delicious fruits of summer - tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. There are approximately a million different recipes for gazpacho soup, so get creative and use whatever fruits and veggies you have available (my friend and badass chef + lady boss Kristen Desmond makes a fabulous Watermelon Gazpacho for her gourmet-to-go spot in Santa Barbara, Flagstone Pantry).

The real secret is just starting with the best + freshest ingredients possible and to balance your flavors - taste the soup constantly, adjusting the salt and vinegar as needed. The soup should taste seasoned but not salty, tangy but not sour. So here's hoping you have a glut of tomatoes in your garden or from the farmers' market, and you can whip up this soup without turning on the oven or stove in your hot summer kitchen.

 Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Linda Hirst

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Linda Hirst

GAZPACHO SOUP WITH TOMATO BASIL OIL

GAZPACHO SOUP

Prep time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 Persian cucumbers, peeled
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed
  • 2 ½ pounds heirloom or cherry tomatoes (about 8 1/2 cups)
  • 1-2 cloves garlict
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • TOMATO BASIL OIL
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher or flakey sea salt
  • Instructions:
    1. Cut half the onion, 2 of the cucumbers, 3/4 of the bell pepper and the entire jalapeño into 1-inch pieces. Place in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Blend at high speed until completely smooth. (If necessary, blend in batches, then stir together.)
    2. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl, and strain soup (discard the solids).
    3. Finely dice remaining onion, cucumber and pepper, and add to soup (I recommend holding back a few of the diced vegetables, and using them as a garnish for the soup at the end). Stir in the red wine vinegar. If desired, add water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin out the soup. Taste, and adjust salt and vinegar as needed. Cover, and chill soup for 45 minutes. (Chill 6 soup bowls now too.)
    4. Make the basil oil: Finely chop basil. Place in a small bowl, and cover with the olive oil. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and a generous pinch of salt. Toss to combine, then taste and adjust salt. Set aside.
    5. To assemble, ladle soup into chilled bowls. Garnish with basil oil and additional diced vegetables. Serve immediately.