I owe you a picture of vichyssoise, so here you go:

It doesn’t look like the most exciting thing on earth, but wait until you try it.  Take it from me–it is deee-lish.

Here’s a bowl of cherry soup.

The color’s nice, but I really don’t like that gigantic flower floating on top.

It would look much better with a dollop or a squiggle of crème fraîche.

If I were a paying customer, I wouldn’t want to have to eat around an overwhelming pansy (or whatever that is), or have to lift it out with a fork and figure out where to put it.  In my book, that’s a very bad garnish.  Let it serve as an example of what not to do.

Okay, we’ve reviewed two cooked-to-cold soups, but last time I didn’t get around to uncooked cold soup.  I’ll get to it now, and the best example I can think of is:

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of those soups that turns up in a thousand different incarnations, and everybody swears that their version is the best and the most authentic.  I don’t have any idea what version is the best or the most authentic, but I’m happy with the recipe that I’m about to share.  The list of ingredients is pretty long, but it’s all simple stuff, and the procedure for whomping it all together is super-easy.  It’s also cheap, especially if you do without the fancy colored peppers and the basil for garnish (today’s pro-tip:  do not buy herbs at the grocery store; they are obscenely overpriced.  Basil is very easy to grow in your own yard, or even just in a pot in your kitchen).

As usual, this recipe produces about a gallon.  If you want less, the math is your responsibility.

2 1/2 lbs. peeled and diced tomatoes (honestly, I prefer canned tomatoes over fresh.  Muir Organic® is my favorite brand)

1 c. diced onion

1 green pepper, diced

1 red pepper, also diced

1 lb. cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

about an ounce of minced garlic

2 oz. red wine vinegar

2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 c. olive oil

s & p, of course

some cayenne pepper (however much you like)

3 oz. fresh bread crumbs (optional, but I like it very much)

3 qts. tomato juice

white stock

For garnish (you need some garnish, but which of these you use is up to you):

  • 8 oz. peeled and seeded tomato, small dice
  • 4 oz. red pepper, small dice
  • 4 oz. green pepper, small dice
  • 4 oz. yellow pepper, small dice
  • 3 oz. cucumber, peeled and seeded, small dice
  • 2 oz. green onion, sliced thin
  • slivers of fresh basil (I can’t really put a measurement on it–sorry)

If I had to limit myself to two garnishes, it would be cucumber and basil, but that’s just me.

Okay, here comes the procedure, which, as I said earlier, is pretty darned easy.

Purée everything together except for the tomato juice, stock, bread crumbs, and garnishes.  You can use an immersion blender, a food processor, a counter-top blender–whatever’s in your kitchen arsenal.  Next, stir in the tomato juice.  Now consider the consistency:  Do you want it thick or thin?  It’s up to you, and that’s what the white stock is for–use it to adjust the soup to your liking.

Stir in the bread crumbs, if you have opted to use them, and taste the soup–how much s & p and cayenne does it need?  Bear in mind that cold soups need more seasoning than hot ones.

Chill it, and then serve it up in cold cups or bowls with whatever garnishes you’ve settled on.  Easy.

All this talk of garnishes makes me think that I should post an entry just on that subject.  I guess that’ll be next.

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