remedy for the heat

It is hot. So hot, that it is almost indescribable. We are in the middle of a long stretch of immensely stifling weather in the East with no end in sight. It has slowed the entire city down. Rush hour was brought to a stand still last week when we experienced a blackout that shut down all the traffic lights along major roadways.The pace of pedestrians is slow and languid. No one has the energy for a quick pace in this thick soup of heat and humidity.

The last thing you want to do in weather like this is turn on your oven (heck, I don't even want to turn on the toaster!) So what do you make for dinner?

My answer is Gazpacho, delicious cold tomato soup.

Now, I know for some people that the words cold and soup do not belong together. Some people just can't get use to the idea that soup can be cold. I readily admit that cold soups can be a bit strange. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the overly fruity ones. They taste more like smoothies to me and I'm not the biggest fan of the classic vichyssoise (cold potato and leek soup). In my opinion, that is a hot soup masquerading as a cold soup. But when it comes to Gazpacho, I am head over heels in love. Especially, in this weather.

If you are a cold soup non believer I implore you to try this soup.

Gazpacho is a regional dish from Spain that has many variations and subtleties. The debate rages on amongst purists about what a "true" gazpacho consists of. The recipe I use from The Dean & Deluca Cookbook written by David Rosengarten advocates using soaked bread in the soup which I wholeheartedly agree with. This might seem a little strange the first time you make it but just go with it. They also strain their soup which leaves it with a nice texture. Finally, they give some suggestions for garnish which I have adapted. Some people think that no fancy garnishes should grace gazpacho but we tend to eat this soup for dinner so the addition of a few toppings turns it into more of a meal.

I like to add diced red onion, fresh chives, kalamata olives, feta cheese and avocado. Delicious! The perfect remedy for a hot day (or week!)

What's your remedy for this heat?

Recipe adapted from The Dean & Deluca Cookbook

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 pound crustless French or Italian bread (weigh after removing crust), torn into coarse chunks 12 ounces ripe, red tomatoes, cut in coarse chunks 2/3 cup chopped onions 1 large garlic clove 6 ounces cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut in coarse chunks 6 ounces red bell pepper, seeded and cut in coarse chunks 2 tablespoons Spanish olive oil 1/4 cup sherry vinegar salt and pepper to taste Garnishes (optional) finely chopped green bell pepper finely chopped red bell pepper finely chopped onion finely chopped cucumber finely chopped hard-boiled egg finely chopped olives croutons

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pour water over bread to cover, then squeeze out the water and place bread in the work bowl of a food processor. (If bread is fresh, squeeze immediately. If bread is stale, wait a few moments.) 2. Place the rest of the ingredients, except garnishes, in the food processor. Purée until very smooth (2 minutes or more). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for several hours. 3. Strain through a fine sieve. Just before serving, if desired, thin with a little ice water. Serve either in tall glasses, ungarnished, or divide gazpacho among soup bowls, offering as many of the garnishes as you wish.