In most parts of the country, it’s very hot outside, with no signs of cooling down for a while. It’s summer, and you can either embrace that or bide your time until fall. Either way, you can help yourself by eating foods that are warm weather fare: grilled steaks, chicken, salads and cold pasta are always good choices. And if the thought of cold soup doesn’t scare you, gazpacho is one of the best summer foods, and it’s very easy to make. Here, I came up with my own version that includes a few non-conventional ingredients like avocado, cilantro and Buffalo wing sauce. Give it a whirl in your blender and on your taste buds and let me know how you like it. With that, here we go.
1 1/2 cups tomato juice or vegetable juice such as V-8
3 medium size tomatoes
1/2 small green pepper
1 celery stalk
1/2 medium cucumber
1 medium raw jalapeno pepper
1 small avocado or ½ of a large one
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. commercially made Buffalo Wing sauce
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and squeeze the pulp and seeds out, then coarsely chop the flesh. Seed the green pepper and coarsely chop. Remove the strings from the celery and coarsely chop.
Peel and seed the cucumber and coarsely chop it. Seed and chop the jalapeno, using kitchen gloves if possible (or washing your hands immediately afterward -- I hope I don’t need to tell you why!). Then cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, scoop out the flesh and discard the pit and rind. Put all of the vegetables in a blender along with the tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar, wing sauce, cilantro, salt and pepper. Blend or pulse briefly until smooth (shorter time if you prefer a chunkier soup). Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, but you can serve as-is if you’re hungry. Serves four.
Chef’s note: Before making this, make sure you have a loaf of crusty bread and a good summer beer such as Corona on ice. Now you’ve got a meal!