Gazpacho has always been one of my summer loves. Just take ripe summer produce, throw in the processor, purée and enjoy. I committed the ultimate gazpacho sin when I first made it on my own, using *gasp!* canned tomatoes, but I was a poor grad student and it wasn’t summertime – I will say now never do that, ever. Wait for beautiful fresh tomatoes, it’s worth it. Gazpacho is often my choice when I go out to eat as well – there is just something so refreshing about the blend of cucumbers and tomatoes together, that even when it’s so hot out that you feel like you’re going to start melting like that ice cream cone the kid walking down the street is enjoying, you can take a few loud slurps with the spoon and instantly cool off a few degrees (and when it’s that icky out no one minds a few loud slurps anyways).
When I heard about the existence of white gazpacho from Green Kitchen Stories (GKS), I was immediately intrigued – I mean, where would gazpacho be without all of those fresh summer tomatoes?? I wasn’t really that skeptical though, because it looked mouthwatering – go check out their pictures, and you’ll understand. I immediately knew that I wanted to make this, and so I did what anyone does nowadays – I googled blogs for “white gazpacho”, and picked one on the first page that looked yummy. I still am pretty lacking in the cookbook department, and so the vast interwebs are basically my very large cookbook. It’s really not such a bad way to be. I love my cookbooks, but they are all in the U.S., an ocean away, and I just cannot bring myself to either A) pay to ship a bunch of books over the ocean or B) buy them all over again. Besides, the interwebs can be a great resource if you are able to recognize a good recipe out there. And the one I came across looked amazing.
Given that the bread gets puréed, I knew that we could use any gluten free bread to make this work. I didn’t really have a means of juicing a cucumber, so we just added in some extra, and then after adding everything together, tasted and tweaked until we got something we both loved. I also took a cue from GKS and added in some white bell pepper, after serendipitously coming across them in the grocery store. I’d never seen a white bell pepper before, let alone expected to actually see one the day I was planning on making this soup. Sure we’ll add it in, why not? First I cut off a little piece to taste, just to make sure it was really sweet like a bell pepper and that I wasn’t accidentally going to burn our mouths off with some crazy spicy soup. I have a feeling my husband wouldn’t be so appreciative of an unexpected fire-in-the-throat experience if they were really hot or something… No worries, they were sweet and delicious like bell peppers
This soup was almost no-cook, but definitely worth a couple short minutes of heating up a skillet. By the time we had finished with the main soup (which included sending my husband back out to the grocery store to buy a strainer), the leeks were well cooled and temperature was not an issue. Not that it really matters if you are going to just chill the whole thing anyways, but if you are going to eat it right then and there you definitely don’t want your leeks to be warm still.
So if you are looking for something a little different this summer, go ahead and give gazpacho blanco a shot, you may find a new summer love!
Adapted from John Fraser (of Dovetail)’s White Gazpacho
Ingredients (4 app. sized soup portions):
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Whites of 3 large leeks, sliced
2 soft slices of bread/rolls of your choice (gluten free store-bought bread works fine here), cubed
1 c. green grapes (seeded if you didn’t get a seedless variety)
1/2 c. sliced blanched almonds
2 tbs. cider vinegar
3 cups cucumbers, chopped
1 white bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c. crème fraiche
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff that isn’t sold in giant 1L bottles)
1 c water
1 tablespoon sea salt
chives for garnish (optional)
1. Heat up a medium sized skillet on med-high and add olive oil. When hot, sauté the leeks until soft translucent, then remove from heat and transfer to a bowl (i.e. get them out of the hot pan).
2. In a large food processor (at least 6 c. sized, or you may need to do this in batches), add in bread, grapes, almonds, vinegar, cucumbers, bell pepper, crème fraiche, and olive oil*. Purée until well blended, about 5 minutes. You will get a rather green looking soup, but that will be from the cucumber skin that will eventually be strained.
3. Add in water and salt to taste**.
4. Pass through a fine mesh sieve to strain the soup***, then chill in the fridge for 2 hrs and serve in chilled bowls. Garnish with chives and dot the top with olive oil to make it pretty.
*Note 1 – The original recipe didn’t call for white bell pepper, but I saw it in the grocery store, remembered GKS using them, and thought the flavors would blend well with the recipe I picked. I have no idea if they are easy or hard to find, don’t sweat it if you can’t find a white bell pepper.
**Note 2 – I halved the quantity of water here, and still got a fairly thin gazpacho.
***Note 3 – If you take the reserved almond/cucumber etc. that was strained out of the gazpacho and mix it with some chopped chives and a little plain yogurt you can make a great refreshingly cool yet a bit crunchy (from the almonds) veggie dip.