The veggie-based cold soup goes with the flow of the growing season.
SUMMER IN the Northwest, when the mountain is out and local produce is prime, is the best time to whip up a batch of gazpacho, the veggie-based cold soup that hails from southern Spain.
At Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle and Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market, chef-owner Kevin Davis says they make different gazpachos depending on what’s in peak season. Strawberry-rhubarb, cherry-cucumber, then peaches “and then on to glorious tomatoes.”
Michael Bruno, former executive chef at Vito’s Restaurant & Lounge on First Hill, uses ripe cantaloupe or honeydew melon and very ripe Roma or heirloom tomatoes in his version. Next he adds savory ingredients — roasted garlic, green onions — and flavors things up with basil, mint, flat-leaf parsley and red chili flakes. Extra virgin olive oil tames the acidity from lemon juice and sherry vinegar, while kosher salt brings the entire mixture into balance.
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Last fall, Wayne Johnson, then executive chef at Andaluca restaurant in Seattle and now exec chef at Ray’s Boathouse on Shilshole Bay, competed in “Iron Chef America” on TV.
While cucumbers were hardly his first choice for secret ingredients, he prepared a colorful trio of gazpachos including spicy red tomato, almond-based white and a green version with cucumber, green bell pepper, romaine lettuce and celery.
And although our native son didn’t reign supreme against Iron Chef Michael Symon, his recipe for spicy tomato gazpacho is a winner.
Braiden Rex-Johnson is a Seattle-based food writer. Visit her at www.WithBraiden.com. Ellen M. Banner is a Seattle Times staff photographer.
Spicy Tomato Gazpacho with Shrimp
Serves 6 to 8
2 slices artisan, day-old white bread, torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups cold water
10 to 12 Roma tomatoes, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the grill pan
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 large shrimp, shelled, deveined and patted dry
1. Soak the bread in the water for 20 minutes or until plumped. Squeeze out the water and discard. Reserve the bread.
2. To prepare the tomato purée, in a food processor or blender, pulse the tomatoes until a smooth purée forms. Pour the purée into a medium-mesh sieve placed over a mixing bowl. Stir and press the solids to remove as much juice as possible. Measure out 4 cups of juice and reserve. Discard the solids and save any remaining juice for another recipe.
3. Add the 4 cups of juice and the soaked bread back to the blender along with the bell pepper, cucumber, jalapeño pepper, onion, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and cumin. Pulse until very finely ground chunks form.
4. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until the soup becomes smooth and shiny. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours to allow the flavors to meld.
5. Ten minutes before serving, heat a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat and brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp just turn opaque.
6. To serve, divide the soup among individual bowls and garnish with the shrimp.
— Courtesy of chef Wayne Johnson