facebook tracking pixel Lynda Balslev: A soup to beat the heat | TheUnion.com

Lynda Balslev: A soup to beat the heat

Lynda Balslev


Gazpacho is a warm-weather soup. In other words, it’s a cold, slurpy, thirst-quenching soup, spiked with chile heat to make you sweat and, hence, cool you down in the summer heat. The Spanish vegetable soup is tomato-based and mixed with a cornucopia (or in this case, a sheet pan) of chopped vegetables. Many preparations suggest blending the whole lot, or blending half and mixing the result with the remaining vegetables.

I opt for no blending at all. I prefer to chop and dice all the vegetables and tumble them into a bath of citrusy, spice-infused tomato juice. The result is a delightfully juicy and crunchy soup. You could call it a liquid salad.

Gazpacho is a great way to clear your vegetable drawer. There are many riffs you can make when preparing this soup by tipping the balance of vegetables and spices in a certain direction. This recipe leans toward the southwestern, with a healthy infusion of cumin, chile peppers, cilantro and lime.

With that said, it’s important to mind a few rules of thumb: Use a good-quality tomato juice as a base. Be sure to add a cucumber (seeded), which provides a cool, juicy, neutral component to the soup. Make sure you have a balance of sweet and savory vegetables for a perfect bite. Red bell peppers add crisp sweetness, as do finely chopped sweet carrots, which keep their crunch. Fennel is an outlier that adds a crisp anise note to the soup (and I had it in my refrigerator!).

Try to cut the vegetables in a similar size for a perfect mouthful. While this step takes some time, you can consider the chopping a form of exercise on a hot and muggy day, when it’s impossible to go out for a jog. Once assembled, the soup will be quite thick; it will become juicier while chilling. Refrigerate the gazpacho for at least 1 hour to properly chill and to allow the flavors to meld.

Southwestern Gazpacho

Prep time: 10 minutes (does not include chopping time)

Total time: 10 minutes, plus chilling time

Yield: Serves 6

1 quart tomato juice

2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, stemmed and seeded, finely diced

1 English cucumber with skin, seeded, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced

1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped (optional)

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped

1/2 sweet white or red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 to 2 teaspoons Mexican hot sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves and tender stems

Lime wedges for garnish

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro and parsley in a large bowl. Stir to blend and taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours. Before serving, stir in the cilantro and parsley. Taste again for seasoning. Serve with lime wedges.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area

The Spanish vegetable soup, Gazpacho, is tomato-based and mixed with a cornucopia (or in this case, a sheet pan) of chopped vegetables.
Photo by Lynda Balslev for Tastefood


Farm to Table

See more

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.