By the by, the cheese spread was delicious, as usual. I did something a little different: cheddar, cream cheese, and white wine, with a few crushed fennel seeds mixed in. Food processor for a long, long, long time. It ends up light and yet incredibly rich and delicious. I served it on French bread toasts, and not only did we enjoy it, our teacher-friend who came over to watch the baseball game today thought it was pure heaven.
Dear God is it hot out. 105 today, with brutal humidity. I am already dreading going to work tomorrow, as it will involve being outside my own living room. It's perfect weather for a cold soup.
Here are my soup rules, as adapted from The Silver Palate.
1. Use great homemade stock, if at all possible. Make big batches of it so that you can freeze it and keep it on hand.
2. Remove from the heat and let cool before pureeing.
3. Add herbs just before pureeing.
4. Cook onions and leeks for a long time, slowly, in butter.
5. Think really hard about what flavors and textures balance and match. Sweet and spicy are a good match. So are sweet and sour.
Gazpacho is one of my favorite summer lunches, especially with a slice of garlic bread and a salad. It's simple and refreshing and tastes like summer. Do yourself a favor--make it with the freshest ingredients you can find, the best of the summer farmers' market. I like mine a little spicy, with a shake or two of tabasco sauce. Think bloody mary without the vodka, in a bowl.
6 large ripe tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
2 medium yellow onions
2 large shallots
2 large cucumbers
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups canned tomato juice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Core and coarsely chop the tomatoes; save the juices. Stem, seed, and coarsely chop the peppers. Peel and coarsely chop the onions and shallots. Peel, seed and coarsely chop the cucumbers.
In a bowl whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, reserved tomato juices, canned tomato juice, and eggs.
In a blender or a food processor, puree the vegetables in small batches, adding the tomato juice mixture as needed to keep the blades from clogging. Do not puree completely; the gazpacho should retain some of its crunch.
Stir in the dill, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. To serve, stir, taste, and correct seasoning. Ladle into chilled soup bowls.