In my highly personalized and largely antiquated recipe system, there are folders. Started in my twenties, these old-fashioned colored cardboard folders have been stuffed lovingly over the years, first with pasted clippings from my local newspaper food section and now with print-outs from favorite recipes sites and cooking blogs. They command an entire drawer in my kitchen, and are visited far more frequently than any one cookbook I own (and I own plenty!)
Culling through them recently with a more discerning eye (after they had begun to bulge and rip), it occurred to me that there was not one soup recipe in the bunch. I looked under appetizers—nothing. Mexican—tortilla soup is a favorite—nada. Why was this?
First, I associate most soups with time-consuming prep. Lots of chopping of vegetables. Preparation of homemade stock (so much well-meaning pressure embedded in this subject!). The potential all-afternoon simmer. A bowlful of comfort, yes. But somehow, the time/taste tradeoff never paid out for me.
Keepin’ it fresh and easy
With the advent of Spring, my mind turns to chilled soups, much like my seasonal switch from hot coffee to iced lattes. Chilled soup has always seemed to be the bright, more elegant counterpoint to its warm, hearty sibling. Both lovely, just a matter of preference.
When thinking about chilled soup, it’s clear that gazpacho is the big daddy. I saw as many variations online as there are days in a month. But here’s the added bonus: they are quick and easy. Many gazpacho recipes require minimal prep, no cooking and the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients really speak to me. Soon it will be hot outside, and you will be thanking me for this refreshing and easy to make Cucumber-Tomatillo Gazpacho made in a blender. It’s also vegan and a raw food!
Before we start: What the heck is a tomatillo?
You may have seen tomatillos in your grocery store and wondered if they were a green tomato. While both are members of the nightshade family, green tomatoes are hard, unripe tomatoes, and can come from any number of tomato varieties. Tomatillos, also known as Mexican husk tomatoes, are not actually not a tomato, but the fruit of a different plant covered with papery husks.
Choose tomatillos that have dry, papery husks that are not pulling away from the fruit. They should be firm without dark or soft spots. After peeling the skin, you’ll notice a sticky residue which can be easily rinsed off with a little warm water.
Raw tomatillos offer a bright, tangy flavor with more acidity than ripe or unripe tomatoes. You can also roast, sauté or grill tomatillos which lessens their acidity and bring outs a subtle sweetness.
(adapted from Bon Appetit.com)
1 pound English hothouse cucumbers (about 1), halved, seeds removed
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced, rinsed under cold water
1/2 medium poblano chile, seeds removed
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of lime juice
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus leaves for serving
1/2 tsp of Kosher salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
Using a blender, puree cucumbers. Add the oil, vinegar and lime juice. Add tomatillos, onion, chile, garlic, chopped parsley and cilantro, blending until very smooth; season with salt and pepper.
Cover and chill for 2 hours before serving.
Do ahead: Gazpacho can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
Makes approximately eight 5-ounce servings.
I bought the thickest hothouse cucumbers I could find to have more cucumber “meat”.
I cut the vegetables into medium-sized chunks before blending. I started by blending the cucumbers first, then added the liquids (oil, vinegar & lime juice), followed by the tomatillos, chile, garlic and onions in batches. Taste as you go, and see if you want the full amount of onions. (I used a little less). Add seasonings.
A half-batch is pictured here. If you make the full recipe, your blender will be very full. Blending the vegetables in batches is imperative! After finishing, I put the blender right in the refrigerator to chill. If you are serving the next day, an airtight container may be preferable.
After two hours, the soup thickens a bit. There is also a bit of separation so I popped it back on the blender for a quick pulse, or you can just stir it up. I served it garnished with a bit of feta and some cilantro leaves.
A half-batch was the perfect amount for 4 to 5 cup-sized servings. The flavors intensified overnight and the garlic and tartness became more pronounced. I prefer to serve it the day it is prepared. It was perfect served with a dry white wine like a Gavi or Pinot Grigio, or even a margarita.
Get ready for summer
This soup would be a great starter to serve at your summer soirees and backyard barbeques. The Chopping Block is offering a full-lineup during Memorial Day weekend of virtual grilling classes to get us in the summer mood. New classes are added weekly.