As we turn the calendar to August, our gardens are suddenly a-burst with fabulous veggies that seemingly beg to become Late Summer Gazpacho.
* * * * * * *
I have strong feelings about screwing up perfectly good ingredients out of creativity for its own sake. Accordingly, I have no use for pineapple pizza, mango ketchup, fried ice cream, or any other such cleverly counter-intuitive culinary absurdities. I am likewise hesitant to “improve” upon classic recipes without good cause, e.g., I'll reluctantly update them with more modern ingredients and/or without flour and such, but I otherwise leave them as-is. In the spirit of such respect for hidebound culinary orthodoxy, I previously presented my Gazpacho recipe as a standard and boringly reliable early summer option for facing the season’s first sultry swelter in style. But as our August gardens fairly burst with scrumptious, sun-drenched delights such as corn, tomatoes, and zucchini, I humbly succumb to the temptations of sensory overload and hereby honor the sign of Leo with its own version of Gazpacho.
But this is complicated, so bear with me. If you made my earlier version, you’ve got a great head start, for we are essentially using that as a platform for August’s farmstand bounty.
For the Base–
1 Red Onion
1 64 oz. Bottle of V-8
2 Stalks of Celery
½ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
¼ Cup Sherry Vinegar
Sriracha or Other Source of Spicy Heat
Salt & Pepper As Needed
3 or so Cloves of Garlic, processed with ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Peel & de-seed cucumbers, peel onion, then chop both coarsely along w/ the celery. Pulse (but do NOT thoroughly puree) these veggies (and garlic/oil) w/ the V-8. Season to taste.
1 Decent-Sized Zucchini
3-5 Burstingly Ripe Tomatoes
3-5 Ears of Young & Tender Sweet Corn
1 Orange Pepper
Cook the corn for 1-1½ minutes in boiling water, then plunge into cold water. Remove kernels and add them to the base. Finely dice the zucchini– ¼” pieces are worth the trouble– and add to the base. Loosen the tomato skins by immersing in boiling water for 30 seconds followed by a brief plunge in cold water. Peel and then de-seed, carefully preserving as much juice as possible. Add tomatoes and captured juice to the base. Finely dice orange pepper and add to the base.
At this point you might not like the texture, for raw zucchini is quite crunchy. However, an overnight soak in the fridge will soften it beautifully. When correctly made, the late-summer veggies will neither float nor sink in the base. Make your final seasoning adjustments– you will probably need a little more of everything, but add carefully by seasoning a bowlful of soup and then adding that back into the batch. If you are understandably tempted to include your gorgeous basil, please segregate a scoop for a small test batch first and see how you like it. Basil has strong character and can easily transform such a dish into something very different.