Bright with basil, delicately spicy, subtly sweet and creamy (thanks to a surprise fat-free secret ingredient), this green gazpacho has the depth of flavor that most cold vegetable soups lack. Finished with crisp cucumber, roasted shrimp and a healthy spoonful of sour cream, I’m gonna go ahead and make the claim that this recipe will be the tastiest (and healthiest) in your summer soup repertoire.
I started a gazpacho-a-thon in my kitchen last week was because I was fed up with the gazpacho routine I’ve been dancing for years. You know the moves: it’s a blazin’ hot day, you’re sweating buckets and starving, but looking for a meal that’ll agree with your swimsuit. So you get the ubiquitous gazpacho. It always arrives bright and pretty, but about halfway through the bowl, you’re bored. Something about it loses its zing, and it starts to taste just like a raw vegetables in a blender. It makes me crave bacon cheese fries.
But not this soup. A spoonful of this pretty green gazpacho works like a sip of complex wine. It’ll start a little sweet, then you’ll get a kick of heat from the peppers, and eventually you’ll come back around to the herby basil. Traditionally, gazpacho gets its texture from bread, but this is thickened and slightly sweetened with… a banana. It’s kind of magic, since you don’t really taste it, but it gives the soup body. And, you can make this from start to finish in less than 15 minutes.
Damn Good Three-Pepper Gazpacho
For the soup:
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded (use a serrano pepper if you like more heat)
1 medium shallot, peeled (or use ¼ onion with ½ clove garlic)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup white wine
Juice from 2 limes
10 cracks fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
12 large basil leaves
1 peeled banana (ripe, but not super ripe)
Roasted, sautéed or boiled shrimp, shelled (about 2-3 per person)
Cucumber, diced, to taste
Sour cream or Greek yogurt, to taste
Finely chopped basil, to taste
Break out the blender: Put everything for the soup except for the basil leaves and banana in a blender. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes or until the color is pale green and the mixture looks smooth. Toss in the basil leaves and the banana and blend again for 30 more seconds, until smooth.
Strain it smooth: This might seem like a pain, but straining is the key to smooth, sexy soups. Rest a fine strainer over a large bowl and pour in half of the blended soup. Push the puree through with a rubber spatula, and pass the other half of soup. Check the underside of the strainer and scrape it clean into the bowl…that’s good stuff. When what’s left in the strainer is a thick, pulpy mass, you’re good to go.
Garnish and serve: Pour the soup in the mixing bowl into serving bowls. Cut the shrimp into 3-4 pieces and garnish the soup with it. Add a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, and sprinkle around diced cucumbers and finely chopped basil. Serve and watch the bowls disappear.