Chilled Strawberry Gazpacho
Strawberry Gazpacho — A Chilled Summer Soup »
When the weather turns warm, I can hardly wait to eat on the deck – breakfast, lunch or dinner – they all work for me. Although it seemed like an eternity, the small trees we planted in our yard have transformed our deck into a private tree house. Cool and well shaded, it is our preferred living space for most of the summer. Summer means a sift in eating preferences, and gazpacho, a chilled summer soup packed with fresh veggies, is always a refreshing favorite. I can’t explain why, but eating outside makes me feel like I’m on vacation even though I just stepped out of my kitchen. Maybe it’s because we seem to eat slower, linger a little longer, and seem more likely to share a second glass of wine putting any complication of the day in proper perspective.
With dining alfresco on my brain (a fancy way to say eating outside), I came across a story for strawberry gazpacho on the back page of Cooking Light magazine. Frankly, I had never thought of pairing strawberries and tomatoes and I was intrigued by the unusual combination. Maybe the large container of strawberries sitting in my refrigerator and losing freshness by the minute had something to do with it. So I would classify this as a recipe of opportunity, because I was inspired by Cooking Light and creatively motivated to use what I had on hand. The resulting strawberry gazpacho recipe is a fresh springtime riff off the classic Spanish chilled summer soup.
Because I’m also a graphic designer, I celebrate the creative process of kitchen experimentation as much as I do the finished product. I like to take what I have on hand and make something new out of it. I wish I could be more like the french and go to the market everyday, but that doesn’t seem to work, because I always come home with a lot more than I went for! Just like the old saying “your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” the same applies to me when I am at the grocery. My ideas are always so much bigger when I’m at the store than my ambition is when I return home – hence, the giant box of strawberries.
All You Need is a Blender
As general rule, when making gazpacho you don’t have to agonize over exact quantities, instead it’s easier to think in ratios. With a classic tomato-based gazpacho, it’s usually 3 parts tomatoes to 1 part everything else – often including peeled cucumbers, peppers, onions and garlic. You put everything into the blender and pulse until the soup is chunky like shown on the spoon in the photo above. If your soup ends up too watery, soak a couple of pieces of crusty bread in water, squeeze them dry, add them to the soup and blend again to thicken it.
When it comes to cooking, unlike baking, don’t be afraid to use your own creative instincts and good judgement. Try making adjustments based on your own taste, remember you don’t have to paint by numbers or follow an exact formula to get a good result.
Next you’ll add all the seasonings. Salt, pepper, and thyme enhance the flavors of the vegetables. My recipe also calls for the addition of a cube of vegetable bullion, but if you don’t have it, chicken bouillon will work in a pinch. I use a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes along with fresh. From experience, I think the combination provides a richer tomato profile than fresh tomatoes alone.
The addition of balsamic vinegar provides a nice zing, and the olive oil adds a silky texture to the soup. Two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, added at the end, brightens the entire flavor profile. Pour the blended gazpacho into a covered bowl and chill for at least 4 hours. Chilling overnight is preferred because it allows the flavors to meld completely.
This a perfect hot weather soup that you will want to make – I call it “summer in a bowl.” To serve, garnish with chilled cooked shrimp, diced avocado, and chopped strawberries. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and pair with a nice glass of white wine — a Vouvray is my personal favorite.
PREP TIME - Minutes
Servings - 2 cups
- 6 Roma or Compari tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium red pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 4 cups ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
- 1 16oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 avocado, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup strawberries, chopped
- Chilled Cooked Shrimp (optional)
- Place tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add strawberries to the blender/ food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl with other vegetables, stir to combine. Reserve 1½ cups.
- Return remaining strawberry/vegetables to the blender/food processor; add fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, thyme, lemon juice, salt, pepper and bouillon cube; process until pureed.
- Pour puree back into the bowl with the reserved mixture; stir in oil oil, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with additional salt if needed.
- Cover and chill 4 to 8 hours to allow flavors to meld.
- Before serving garnish with diced avocado, chopped strawberries and cooked shrimp
a perfect way to use strawberries past their prime!
Meals Are Always Best When Shared
Let’s share our culinary journey together – tag me on Instagram @seasonalmuse and share what inspires you, because that’s what inspires me! Bon Appétit!
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