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Posted on Sun. Jun. 08, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Gazpacho a cool summer option

No matter the weather, soup usually shows up on the menu at least once a week.

Obviously in the fall and winter itís recipes like hearty vegetable, beef and barley, wild rice and mushroom or chicken soup, and either matzo balls, rice or noodles. In the spring and summer, however using the freshest fruit and veggies available and keeping the soup cold is the name of the game.

Enter the gazpacho. Gazpacho is a cold soup traditionally made of raw vegetables in a tomato-based broth. Bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar are all part of the classic recipe, but there are always variations on a theme.

The most traditional way of preparing a classic gazpacho is to mash fresh whole cloves of garlic in a bowl, add some olive oil, salt and a piece of toasted or stale bread to the mixture to make a paste. At this point, chopped ripe tomatoes and vinegar are added and gently mixed to combine. The addition of other vegetables and seasoning is up to the chef, but usually include chopped peppers, onion, cucumber and parsley or cilantro.

The first recipe is for a classic gazpacho made with tomatoes; the rest of the recipes are wild, wonderful and wacky variations on a theme.

EZ Gazpacho

1/3 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 slice toasted or stale bread

8 Roma tomatoes, chopped (save the juice)

1 red onion, chopped in 1/4 -inch chunks

1 large cucumber, chopped (keep the skin on if you like)

2 cloves fresh garlic or 1 tablespoon minced

1 tablespoon chopped basil

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Kosher or sea salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Hot sauce or Tabasco (optional)

Parmesan cheese (optional)

Croutons (optional)

In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine the olive oil, lemon juice and bread and process until smooth. Add six of the tomatoes and process until almost smooth. Add the onion, cucumber, garlic, basil and parsley and remaining tomatoes and process just until combined and the mixture is still chunky. Season with salt, pepper, more oil and basil to taste and top with hot sauce, croutons and parmesan cheese if desired.

Watermelon Gazpacho

14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup watermelon, chopped and seeds removed

1 cup tomato juice

1/2 cup bloody mary mix

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro or parsley

Lime slices to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you prefer gazpacho chunky, pulse the mixture into smaller chunks. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Mixed Berry Gazapcho

3 cups strawberries, blueberries and raspberries (1 pound)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon shredded basil

Olive oil (for drizzling)

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped strawberries

Zest of one lime

In a large microwavable bowl combine the berries, sugar, orange juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, lime juice and basil. Mash to combine. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and microwave for 4 to 5 minutes until the mixture boils. Remove from heat but keep the plastic on to avoid burn from the steam. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until very cold. Garnish with olive oil, chopped strawberries and lime zest.

Peach Gazpacho with Shrimp

1 pound peaches, pitted

1 pound plums, pitted

2 cups watermelon, cubed

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 pound cooked shrimp

6 to 8 green onions, sliced

In the bowl a food processor, combine the peaches, plums, watermelon, garlic, red onion and vinegar. Process until smooth. While the processor is still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. To serve, spoon the soup into eight bowls and top with two or three cooked shrimp and sliced green onions. Serves 8.

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