July 11, 2012

Green God Gazpacho

Throwing raw ingredients in a blender. That's all it takes to put together this green gazpacho of the gods, which cools and soothes away the hot and humid days of mid summer like a quick dip in the pool. It's so wonderfully refreshing, so fabulously fresh and so godlessly (godfully?) green that you just might start throwing fresh veggies in the blender with reckless abandon all summer long, wondering what other produce from the farmers market will create such a great gazpacho. If you're not a huge gazpacho fan to begin with, just remember it's miles away from your mother's gazpacho of canned tomatoes. Hell, it's green!

This recipe comes much buzzed about cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. The book is jam-packed with inventive ways to enliven fresh vegetables from carrots to cabbage to collard greens, and while I haven't been disappointed by a recipe yet, this is one is a standout. While every summer now comes with an onslaught of cold soup recipes from across the web and food-o-sphere, you don't get many that are green, and you don't get many that are quite this good. It's so good, in fact, that I've named it Green God Gazpacho. As long as salad dressings have hold of the Green Goddess, soups can take the Green God. Whatever that means.

So get out your blender, friends. Dinner will be ready before you know it.

Green God Gazpacho
Serves 3-4
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

For the soup
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
3 mini cucumbers, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and white pith removed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
3 cups baby spinach
1 slice white, toasted sandwich bread, cut into pieces
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup greek yogurt
about 1/2 to 1 cup water
5-6 large ice cubes
salt and pepper

To garnish
2 slices white sandwich bread
1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
olive oil

1. To prepare the soup, add the celery, bell pepper, cucumbers, jalapeño pepper, garlic cloves, sugar, walnuts, spinach, bread, basil, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, 1/2 cup water, ice cubes, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large blender. Pulse until smooth. That's it (difficult, right?). You may want to add additional olive oil, yogurt, water and/or salt and pepper to adjust the consistency and flavor of the soup. It should be a brilliant green color and the consistency of a thick smoothie. Keep cold in the fridge.

2. To make the croutons, toast the two slices of bread until lightly browned. Using a large chef's knife, cut the bread first into 1/4 inch strips and then cut those strips into 1/4 squares.

3. To serve, place the soup in medium sized bowls. Top with a small mound of the croutons in the middle and garnish with the chopped parsley. Quickly drizzle olive oil over the top and serve at once.