Soup is one of my family’s favorite meals year round. I love it because it allows me to use produce I may have overbought, lasts for days in the fridge, can be easily frozen, and is the perfect solution to any party or large gathering. In the summer months, my first choice is always Chilled Gazpacho. It’s refreshing, healthy, and bursting with flavors, not to mention gluten-free.
There are many different types of gazpacho: ingredients, flavors, and consistency. There is the traditional Spanish tomato-bell peppers-cucumber-onions-olive oil version, and dozens of less familiar ones. My personal favorite is a recipe I adapted from a close family friend, Bill Reynolds: Chilled Grape Gazpacho. Bill has had a long and distinguished culinary career, including being the provost at Washburne Culinary Institute of Chicago. This recipe came about while he was doing a cooking class for a local charity in the early ‘90s. He made a version of cold grape gazpacho that was the inspiration for my recipe.
- 1 pound green seedless grapes, stemmed
- 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
- ½ cup vanilla-flavor low-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of ground red pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
- ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds, for garnish
- In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the almonds and half of the dill; blend until smooth. With a strainer or colander, strain the soup into a large bowl. Cover and chill for 4 to 6 hours. If the soup separates, stir before serving.
- Pour ½ cup of soup into individual small bowls or cups. Garnish with the remaining dill and the sliced almonds.
At a cocktail party, one of my favorite ways to serve soup is two or three at a time. For an interesting twist, the soup can be served in demitasse mugs, shot glasses, or martini glasses. I like to place an array of different flavors in a row, so guests can have a “shot” of soup. Using a trio of different colored soups such as hot Butternut Squash Soup, Creamy Tomato Basil, and Chilled Grape Gazpacho makes for a great presentation.
The best part of gazpacho is that the flavor actually gets stronger with time, making it the perfect leftover. It couldn’t be simpler to make either. So get the blender out, use up that produce, and treat your family and friends to a refreshing summer meal!
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