Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cool, Smoky Gazpacho

My friend Clare was getting ready to teach a yoga class when we last talked and it got me thinking. She was going to be teaching something called yin yoga. What is yin, you ask? The whole idea centers around elements to cool, calm, and center you in spirit and mind, as a compliment and grounding element to those that actively stimulate you. Stimulation is good, but sometimes you need to tone it down a bit with some calming elements. There are lists of foods labeled yin and others which are yang. The best cooking will of course incorporate a balanced combination of both yin and yang. You've got to have a balance.

I understand it is hot and sticky back home, while we are walking around in trench coats and sweaters here in France. But for Clare and Mom, both languishing in the current heat wave back stateside, I want to share a recipe that might cool you off with some yin and at the same time give you a little spank of yang to keep you moving.

A nice house Gazpacho can be put together in the morning before you start the day. It takes all but 10 minutes to do and it really hits the spot once the sun is high. It can be served as a first course or as a meal with fresh bread, followed by the cheese plate.

I guarantee that this soup is the one that will win over a staunch cold soup cynic. It was entered years ago into my kitchen notebook after I tried the one in the good old standby, the Silver Palate Cookbook. If you have the cookbook you'll see that I have deviated completely from it over the years. It no longer even resembles the original recipe. But I like to attribute my ideas. Quand meme!

Cool and Smoky Gazpacho

This recipe will serve 4 to 6, depending on what course you serve it in.

6 of the most flavorful ripe tomatoes you can find
1 yellow onion or a bunch of mild flavored onions, the kind you get in spring and early summer
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large cucumber
2 shallots
1 celery branch, cut into chunks
1 dried chipotle chili (a dried, smoked, jalapeño from Mexico). Note, if you don't have this kind of pepper, get some, silly! I will not be held responsible if you don't get yourself a chipotle pepper!
1 or 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (cold food needs salt)
1 1/2 cups mixed poultry stock (had to get meat in there somewhere! Ha!)
-or- 1 1/2 cups of your favorite prepared vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup hot water for the chili pepper
2 limes
up to 1/2 cup good fruity olive oil (optional, depends on your regime)
1 bunch of chopped fresh dill weed or cilantro
4 to 6 tsp. wine or basalmic vinegar (your favorite vinegar) for serving

About the chipotle: This is a kind of pepper that is available everywhere in the USA! Dried and smoked jalapeño peppers from Mexico, I adore them. They not only add a complex, manageable heat, but also add amazing breadth of flavor with their natural smoke. If you haven't discovered chipotles, it's high time you did. If you cannot obtain the dried ones, you can use a canned one, the kind in adobo. If you live in France and are set on making this soup but have no peppers, call me and I'll send you one of mine.

- Wash and cut the tomatoes, onion, celery, bell peppers, cucumber, and shallots into rough chunks and put them into a large bowl or a soup pot.

- With scissors, cut the top from your dried chili pepper and slice it down the side, opening it to reveal the seeds and strings. Remove the seeds and pulpy strings from the inner part of the dried pepper (some may call this heretical behavior, so this step is of course optional, but note that you can keep the heat to a nice afterglow by doing this).
- Heat the 1/2 cup water to boiling and remove from heat source. Immerse the chipotle into it. Set it aside to soak.
- Take the stick blender to the vegetables. Concentrate on the onions, celery and shallots first, then the tomatoes, then the peppers and cucumbers as you blend the vegetables, not aiming for a totally homogenous puree, but leaving little chunks and crunchy bits here and there.
- In another container like a large measuring cup, put the poultry or vegetable stock, the entire chili pepper and its smoky flavored soaking water, and the salt.
- Puree the liquids with the pepper until the chili pepper is completely pureed and is like little specks in the liquid. Break down that yang. Add it to your cold vegetable puree. Add the juice of two limes, the olive oil, if you're using it, the chopped fresh dill weed or cilantro, and stir.
- Transfer to large jars or just cover the bowl or pan and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
- Stir before serving and drizzle a teaspoon of the vinegar of your choice on top of the cold soup in each bowl. Don't forget the vinegar when you serve it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not like the idea of cold soup at all. Where I am from soup is served on colder days to be warming and comforting. However, your lovely photos and description make it sound really quite nice. Serving it in such a pretty glass could be the persuasive note for me - I love an ice cold Bloody Mary and I can see that we are not so far from that with a well chilled savoury soup.

3:00 PM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger Andreea said...

i absolutely love gazpacho. i never tried it with chipotle though. to be perfectly honest i would not even know where to get these in belgium. but the recipe and smokiness sounds divine

3:33 PM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger Katie Zeller said...

Cold soups in summer are perfect!
Especially the ones that don't have to be cooked first. Now I have to make gazpacho - my recipe is from a lovely Spanish friend with 12 children...she made huge vats of it....
I, also, never thought of the chiptle....
Isn't change/experimentation wonderful?

10:50 AM, July 14, 2007  
Blogger christine said...

Yum! I couldn't agree more.

6:50 PM, July 14, 2007  
Blogger Mahek said...

The glass in which you have served the gazpacho is so pretty...
It has a Morroccan feel about it.

6:25 AM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Thanks all, for your comments!

9:55 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Scazza said...

I've scanned this a bunch of times but I can't seem to find where the 1/2 cup of olive oil fits in. Does it gt added to the puree? Is it for drizzling? I'm going to be drizzling it since I don't want to dump it in if I'm not supposed to... Thanks for your amazing blog and recipes! Just gorgeous design and pictures!

3:10 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Hi Sara, you can add the olive oil with the other liquids, the lime juice, and fresh herbs. If the 1/2 cup seems too much to you, you can drizzle it of course! To be honest, sometimes I don't add the oil, simply because I prefer to save my fat calories for cheese! It is one element of the original Silver Palate recipe that I have left in, because it does add an element of flavor. I have updated the recipe in the post to be more clear about when to add the oil, but drizzling is perfectly fine as well. Maybe you could try a tiny spoon of roasted sesame oil for drizzling... Hey I'm going to try that! I really appreciate the feedback on the recipe and I also adore that you are going to prepare it. Thank you.

9:18 AM, July 18, 2007  
Anonymous Celeste Williams said...

It looks beautiful! One comment about canned chipotle in adobo - I find just one of them in a recipe to be pretty strong stuff! I live near many sources of dried chilies, so I will definitely try that!

9:05 PM, June 28, 2009  
Anonymous Sally Anne said...

Love the idea of adding the chipotle! The perfect yin and yang.

2:57 AM, August 21, 2011  

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