During the summer months I love making and serving chilled soups for a jazzy first course, breezy lunch or light supper. Aromatic basil along with ripe, juicy tomatoes are at the height of their season in July and August, making it the ideal time to purchase them from your local farmers’ market to prepare this refreshing soup. On days when it’s too hot to cook, this sassy soup packed with produce is the perfect starter or light main course for a get-together with friends. It’s also ideal for picnics. Once it’s chilled, just pour it into a thermos to keep it cold and you’re good to go.
Zesty Summer Gazpacho
MAKES 4 TO 5 SERVINGS
4 ripe tomatoes, quartered
4 stalks celery, with leaves, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, quartered
1⁄3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, lightly packed
1⁄4 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ to 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 clove garlic
Sea salt (optional)
Several grinds freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh basil or parsely, for garnish
Put the tomatoes, celery, onion, parsley, basil leaves, vinegar, chili powder, tamari, and garlic in a large bowl and stir to combine. Put half of the mixture in a blender and process until slightly chunky. Pour into a large bowl or pitcher. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then stir the two batches together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours before serving.
About 30 minutes before serving, chill four to six bowls or mugs. To serve, ladle the gazpacho into the chilled bowls. Garnish with a bit of chopped basil, if desired. Serve immediately.