It’s a drink, it’s an appetizer, a first course, a meal, or all of the above. Definitely cool and summer stunning in chilled, heavy on-the-rocks glasses with a crostini side-car, this Spiked Gazpacho with Crab would eat happily out of small bowls, coffee cups, wine glasses, or … …
Whatever you serve it in, this is the time of year to make it–when the tomatoes are plumply full and eat-in-the-garden lushly ripe, the cucumbers are cool-crisp, you’re feeling lazy, and turning on the stove is more than you can bear. In other words, it’s summer when even the sky is dreamy:
above: playing cloud games as we traveled through the midwest
MAKE IT YOUR OWN: While chopping Gazpacho by hand the old school way is totally an option as gazpacho is really a liquid salad, the Cadillac of blenders or any food processor will make short work of dinner. If you’ve never made Gazpacho before, be brave and run with it. There’s little to go wrong and the beauty is in its individuality. Make it to suit your fancy: chop your vegetables, season to taste, and enjoy. I’d rather have a bit of a chunky soup with a small heat kick; you might like it not so spicy. Want your soup thoroughly and smoothly blended? Use 1/4 cup additional olive oil, then, and it’ll be lighter in color to boot. Skip the crab as it’s a bit luxurious or leave it on the side if you have vegan guests or someone with shellfish allergies. Don’t make the crostini should you be low-carbing. A few best-quality tortilla chips, however, –the thinner, the better– are hard to do without once the crostini are gone. The Tequila is the coup de grace for my version, but naturally can be left out if need be. You may know that many traditional recipes for Gazpacho include bread in the soup itself and, while that’s not to my liking, it surely might be to yours and is a great way to use up stale bread. (I grill the freshest baguette for my salty-peppery sidecars.) It reminds me a bit in that way of Italian Ribollita, the famous next-day minestrone or Pappa al Pomodoro–both tomato-based soups to which bread is added to stretch the available soup or just to use up those crispy crusts . No waste is always a good thing.
above: summer window boxes on 7th Street–a trademark in Saint Paul
This Gazpacho recipe is from my soup book, SOUPS & SIDES FOR EVERY SEASON, and I’ve had little reason to mess with it yet–though, of course, every soup is somewhat dependent on the garden, a cook’s tastes, what’s in that larder, or the quality and ripeness of the produce at the local farmer’s market or grocery. As always:
Cook what you like and like what you cook!
However you make it, I hope you’ll be trying this as soon as the tomatoes are ripe:
SPIKED GAZPACHO WITH CRAB
makes 8 1-cup servings and doubles easily
While Gazpacho is one of the quintessential cold soups, I often heat some the next day in a small skillet and poach my eggs in it. Soup: it isn’t just for breakfast anymore!
- 12 slices baguette brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt/pepper
- 6 medium-sized ripe and heavy fragrant tomatoes (about 2 pounds), cored and cut into 1/8’s
- 1 EACH red and yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, membranes removed, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces (can sub a green pepper for the yellow)
- 1 English cucumber, cut into 1-inch pieces (If you use a regular cuke, peel it and seed it by slicing it in half length-wise and running a spoon down each half’s center.)
- 3/4 cup chopped red onion
- 2 plump young garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of one lemon
- Juice of two limes
- 2 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce or 4-5 drops hot sauce such as Tabasco-or to taste
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tablespoons Tequila (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- Honey, optional
- Tomato juice (may or may not need depending on the juiciness of your tomatoes)
- 1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage, for garnish
- Tortilla chips–optional for scooping up soup out of the glasses once the bread is gone.
- Grill baguette slices over high heat for about two minutes on both sides until crispy and brown or run under broiler briefly, turn, and brown again on second side. Slice each piece of bread once from an outer edge to the center and set aside. This allows you to hang the bread off the side if you’re serving the soup in glasses. Skip this step if you’re using bowls.
- Place or pour all ingredients except bread, honey, tomato juice, and crab (tomatoes – Tequila) into a food processor or blender and pulse until well-blended, but not smooth. You may need to do this in batches. If needed, stir in enough tomato juice to make 2 quarts of soup. Taste and adjust seasonings including lemon juice if the soup is too dull, a drizzle of honey if the soup is too acidic, or more olive oil for a smoother taste. Chill for 3 hours.
- Ladle soup into glasses or small bowls; top with a spoonful of crab or let guests add their own. Hang bread slices on the sides of the glasses or, if using bowls, put them on top of the soup as a large crouton. Pass extra hot sauce at table. Serve cold. This soup will keep well- covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Do not freeze.
Good to have a bit of time off to travel to my much-loved Minnesota for a special wedding. We drove and drove and drove…but enjoyed nearly all of it.
Below- Here’s a part we didn’t really enjoy: 7pm with 101 degrees F and a heat index of 107F in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Here’s wedding happiness personified:
above and below: good times with our Minnesota besties:Below: Would you name your famous restaurant “Toot-Toot” ? Just asking. I snapped this in Iowa as we drove by. No, we didn’t stop to eat.Happy to be home and enjoying summer, as I hope you are, too…Thanks for vacation patience and for reading. I’m grateful for you and hope you’ll “cook” this soup.
No stoves allowed,