This chilled summer soup is really gorgeous. What makes it extra special is the use of heirloom tomatoes at the peak of their season. Topping the soup with a few non-traditional ingredients will make this recipe the stunning standout at your next dinner party or special occasion meal. Of course, any in-season variety of plump, ripe tomatoes will work well in this recipe – and ensuring all your ingredients are extra fresh will make this soup one of your summer favorites.
Originally a Spanish dish, Gazpacho now appears in many different versions throughout the Mediterranean. Sherry vinegar is traditionally used in Andalusian recipes, although red wine vinegar adds a really nice flavor too. Initially, it appears that gazpachos were a peasant food and simply contained stale bread, oil and water. later on, summer vegetables appeared in the recipe. In this instance I have used some ground almonds instead of bread to help thicken the soup, and to add a smooth creamy texture. I also finish the soup with a few drops of balsamic glaze, some olive oil and a small pinch of finely chopped basil.
I hadn’t planned to make this soup with an heirloom variety, but given that a visit to the farmer’s market presented me with such amazing fruits, I couldn’t exactly resist! I had in mind that I would make a gazpacho of course, but hadn’t really considered what I would dress the soup with when it came time for serving it. However, having also managed to pick up organic avocados, corn, cucumbers and peppers on my market visit, I had thought I’d likely make a small chopped salad of these ingredients and just serve them mixed into some rice and have it as a second course with some blue cornbread muffins.
On prepping all my ingredients, however, I noticed I also had some fresh lump meat crab in the fridge, which I had intended to make into crab cakes the next day. I was going to make the crab cakes and freeze them for a later date, when I just thought, ‘why don’t I use the crab on top of the soup instead – and really make this into a special occasion soup?’ So – that’s how this recipe was born! And I am so glad I decided to use it in the soup, as it goes perfectly and really balances out the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers. The soft texture of the crab and the crunchiness of the vegetables contrasts beautifully with the velvety texture of the soup – and just makes you want to take another mouthful. And another …
To prepare the tomatoes, put on a large pan of water and bring to a boil. Using a paring knife, cut a little x into the bottom of each tomato and place into the boiling water for about 20 seconds. Next, plunge them into an ice bath for about 1 minute. Drain and slip off the skins. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds and discard them. Now roughly chop the flesh and put into a blender jug.
De-seed and chop the peppers, peel the cucumber and deseed and chop it also. Chop the onion into largish chunks and soak in cold water for about 20 minutes, to help tone down the harshness. Skin and roughly chop the garlic, and chop the fennel into chunks, being sure to cut away the woody stems and center cores. De-seed and roughly chop the chile. Add the ground almonds to the jug. Drain the onions and add all the veggies to the tomatoes and almonds already in the blender. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil.
Run the blender on high speed for about one minute. Open the lid and taste the puree. Check for both texture and flavor. At this point, add 1 tablespoon of sherry (or red wine) vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, half the juice from the lime and 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil. Whizz again for about 20 seconds. Taste-test once more. See if the flavors feel rounded to you. I did add the other tablespoon of sherry vinegar and the rest of the lime juice to suit my personal tastes. I didn’t feel I needed to add more salt, but add another small pinch if you feel it needs it.
Now pour the soup into a glass bowl, cover and place in the fridge for at least 8 (and up to 24) hours. The flavors will continue to develop.
When you are ready to serve the soup, place serving bowls into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes, and prepare your toppings. I used chopped avocado, fresh shucked sweetcorn (that I had first cooked and then cooled in the fridge) and some fresh, shredded lump crab.
Ladle the soup into the bowls, carefully place your toppings in the center, then lightly drizzle with some good quality extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of balsamic glaze. I sometimes use a chiffonade of basil, but this time I used a light sprinkling of finely chopped parsley.
- 4 lbs heirloom tomatoes, skins and seeds removed
- ½ mild sweet onion
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ bulb fennel, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 T ground almonds (not almond flour)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice ½ - 1 lime
- 1 - 2 T sherry (or red wine) vinegar
- ½ t salt
- 1 T shredded basil leaves
- To Serve:
- 4 T fresh crab meat, shredded
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 4 T sweetcorn (cooked and cooled if from the cobb, or defrosted if frozen)
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
- Few drops balsamic glaze
- Place a large pan of water on to boil.
- Put a small 'x' on the bottom of each tomato, add to the pan, and cook for 1 minute.
- Drain and plunge tomatoes into a bowl filled with iced water. Leave to cool.
- Chop the onion roughly and place into the same bowl for about 10 mins to tame its harshness.
- Remove tomatoes from the ice bath, slip off the skins, remove the skins and roughly chop.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, basil,ground almonds and olive oil to the blender carafe.
- Chop the peppers, garlic, and chile and add to the blender, along with the drained onion.
- Next, peel, de-seed and chop the cucumber and add it to the blender also.
- Remove the woody core and stem from the fennel, chop and add that too.
- Run the blender for about 1 minute.
- Check both the texture and the flavor of the soup.
- Add ONE Tblsp of the sherry and HALF the juice of the lime.
- Blend 20 seconds and taste-test once more.
- If necessary, add the other Tblsp vinegar and the lime juice, along with an extra small pinch of salt. Blend again for 20 seconds.
- If you require a smoother texture, run the soup through a sieve.
- Place the soup in a glass bowl and cover, Chill for at least 4 hours, and up to 24.
- To Serve:
- Place serving bowls in the fridge for 30 mins.
- Chop the avocado.
- Cook and chill (or defrost if using frozen) corn.
- Ladle soup into the bowls.
- Gently pile avocado, corn and crab in the center of the soup.
- Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, a few drops of balsamic glaze and a small pinch of finely chopped basil or parsley.