Tomatoes are lush and ripe around now and those winter nightmares of plastic red orbs are a distant bad dream. And at ninety-nine cents a pound nothing to thumb your nose at. And why sweat over a hot stove when a cold soup will do for lunch. Not quite the authentic version or process involving mortars and pestles, but still quick and easy and tastes divine. Makes sure your ingredients are good and fresh.
2 to 3 large ripe regular tomatoes (juicy) roughly cut up (with juice and skin and all)
Peeled large English cucumber cut in large pieces
1/4 to 1/2 a large green bell pepper, seeded, ribbed and rough chopped
Half a bunch of fresh Italian parsley thoroughly rinsed
Fresh mint to taste (entirely optional) thoroughly rinsed
Half a small red onion peeled and cut up
Two large cloves of fresh garlic or to taste
About 5-15 walnuts or whole almonds or cashew nuts
1 whole dried chili (arbol or similar type)
A few glugs of half decent olive oil (about 1/4 cup or less)
Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar to taste (two tablespoons more or less)
A dash of hot sauce (Grace Hot Pepper sauce works perfectly. Or Tabasco will do)
About 1/8th teaspoon of smoked paprika (use a good brand like La Dalia)
Salt to taste
This is a raw dish. It is imperative your ingredients are well rinsed. Anyway it’s a rule around here even if things get cooked.
First make sure to always thoroughly rinse all vegetables and herbs before prepping (and in case of onions and garlic after peeling) them. Once prepped place all vegetables in a high speed high powered blender along with the rest of the ingredients. Go easy on the salt, vinegar and hot sauce. (If you don’t have a high wattage blender, then get one.) Cover and blend on low and increase speed so everything is a rough smooth liquid. If you are using a high powered blender it will take a minute or less.
Check for seasoning and consistency. The vinegar should lend a slight tang, not a salad dressing tartness. You’ll barely taste the chili and hot sauce. They’re only meant to lift up the soup and not to make it hot. If it is too thick add more cucumber and/or tomato. I like it in a milk shake consistency so you can watch football while sipping it off a straw. Or you may add just cold water if too thick. Make it good and thick. Then it’s fun to plop some ice cubes in it too. Refreshing!
You may also add a slice of day old bread (good bread, and not wonderbread please) to the vegetables when blending. Idea is the vegetables give it body and taste while the olive oil blends with the tart tomato giving it a touch of emulsification. The nuts and the bread add a fleshy ceraminess and rounds it off.
Make it as liquid or thick as you like. This is an entire lunch in a glass with ice in it. On a hot day it’s perfect. Or chill the soup overnight and you may serve it in a nice bowl with or without ice. If you want to look posh drizzle some olive oil on it and sprinkle some fresh chopped flat leaf parsley. Just a little.
From the first seconds in blender to the consistency of milkshake. You don’t need to completely blend it to oblivion either.
So there you have it. How you get to lazily enjoy all those ninety nine cents a pound tomatoes that are at the greengrocers and markets this summer. And no hot stoves either.
Toronto, June 26, 2016