In these sweltering days, it’s perfectly normal to experience cravings of ice cream and ice water exclusively—anything warmer may seem to border on masochistic. Alas, swimming, surfing, and even lounging on the beach require a healthy source of sustenance. Which brings us to gazpacho: The chilled soup—which delivers a burst of flavor in the form of a fruit- or vegetable-based broth—is the quintessential summer meal.
Yet as any aspiring foodie can tell you, a pitch-perfect execution is necessary in the kitchen, with lesser attempts resulting in something that more closely resembles, well, salsa. With this in mind, we reached out to April Bloomfield. The exacting chef—whose culinary triumphs include her simple, meat-laden menus for The Spotted Pig and The Breslin—recently released a veggie-centric cookbook, A Girl and Her Greens. She took on the fresh produce-driven challenge, creating three exclusive gazpacho recipes for Vogue.com that range from a cucumber and tomatillo blend thickened with protein-rich (and low fat) Lebanese yogurt, to an anti-inflammatory take on watermelon (spiked with refreshing mint) that will help you chill out and fill up.
Yield: 8 servings
2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes, eyes and whites removed
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1/2 jalapeño pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeds and whites removed, skin peeled
2 T Jacobsen sea salt
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/8 cup picked mint leaves
1/8 cup picked opal or green basil, torn
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Dice the tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, jalapeño, and red pepper separately into medium-size pieces, about three-quarters to one-inch thick. Combine the chopped vegetables in a bowl and add the salt, garlic, mint, basil, sherry vinegar, and olive oil, and toss until the vegetables are well-coated. Cover the mixture with a lid and pop in the refrigerator until chilled—about an hour or so.
Using a slotted spoon, place the tomato mixture in a blender (leaving the excess liquid in the bowl) and purée until smooth and a rich orangey-red color. Add the breadcrumbs and remaining liquid from the bowl and purée until it is completely smooth and almost creamy. Sprinkle in a bit more salt if need be, and serve cold in a chilled glass. Garnish with a handful of fresh chopped basil and mint.
Yield: 8 servings
2 lbs. watermelon, seeds removed and diced into 1-inch cubes
8 oz. diced tomato, seeds and whites removed
8 oz. cucumber, peeled and diced into medium-sized cubes
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced into 1/2 inch size pieces
1 ají dulce pepper, stem and seeds removed
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T Jacobsen sea salt
Thinly sliced red onion
Combine the watermelon, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, ají dulce pepper, onion, and garlic in a large bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Gently toss until the vegetables are well-coated in the oil and lemon juice. Cover the mixture with a lid and pop in the refrigerator until chilled—about an hour.
Gently spoon the watermelon-tomato mixture in a blender, leaving the excess liquid in the bowl. Purée until smooth and almost creamy in texture. Sprinkle in a bit more salt, if need be, and serve cold in a chilled glass. I like to garnish this soup with a few delicate slivers of red onion, an olive or two, and feta crumbles for added tanginess. A few sprigs of fresh of cilantro and black mint top it all off beautifully and add extra aromatics.
Cucumber and Tomatillo Soup
Yields: 8 servings
12 cucumbers (or less depending if they are large)—a lovely market mix cut into small/medium pieces, skin left on if not tough
3 garlic cloves, peeled and split in half
3/4 whole jalapeno, thinly sliced
3/4 stale baguette
3/4 cup high-quality red wine vinegar
1 heaping cup of Marcona almonds
7 1/2 cups small tomatillos
2 1/2 cups grassy extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups labneh
1 1/2 green apples, cored and cut into medium chunks
1 1/2 bunches of basil (leaves only)
3/4 bunch chives, roughly chopped
To preserve the lovely pale green color of the soup, the key is to make sure everything is nicely chilled before you start blending (including the pitcher for the blender). It’s best to have all the ingredients premixed in one bowl before blending.
Wash and cut all of the vegetables into small to medium pieces. Trim off and discard the crusts from your stale baguette. Tear the remaining baguette into small bits. Add the red wine vinegar to a bowl with the bread. Run a sharp knife through the herbs once or twice. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix. You will make this recipe in three batches in the blender, filling the blender by no more than half each time; otherwise it won’t blend properly and you will overwork the machine. Puree until smooth and creamy with a beautiful pale-green color, then pass through a fine-mesh strainer.
The beauty of this soup is that it makes a great base for so many finishing ingredients. Raw diced scallops marinated in chili and citrus or lightly poached shrimp would be appropriate, as would topping it with cucumbers, chives, basil, mint, and melon. I like to also add a little more labneh and olive oil for a bit of indul