Monday, July 1, 2013

Tomato-Peach Gazpacho, No, Really!

It all started last week with an open-face sandwich. On my counter there was the first tumble of tomatoes, and in my fridge was that ubiquitous basil again. It was time for the summer tradition: bread, mayo, tomato, a little more mayo, salt, pepper, basil. I was all ready to eat, and then it happened. The peach.

I had turned around to put back the pepper mill and this peach just kind of sat there and taunted me.

Don't you remember, it said. Don't you remember that weird salad Diane and Todd posted a couple years ago--the one with the peaches and tomatoes? Aren't you feeling curious? A little daring all alone here in the kitchen after such a productive morning? Just try a bite. Just a bite.

By the end of lunch I made four slices of open-face sandwiches stacked with tomatoes and peaches. Four slices. That is the equivalent of two whole, huge sandwiches. And I ate it all.

My only excuse for this gorging is that I'm gearing up for babydom. I've got to keep my strength up. I've got to store some energy (and inspiration) for those times when I'll subsist on spoonfuls of nut butter and Nutella, if I'm lucky, or, if I'm feeling virtuous, handfuls of almonds and whatever fruit is lying around.

The point here is that I really, really liked the peach and tomato thing. It reminded me of a cherry-tomato gazpacho I had on my birthday a couple weeks prior, which I had initially passed up because I thought I didn't do fruit soups on principle. But my sister ordered it, and it was incredible--not too sweet and kicky with pepper and exactly what I wanted to eat a lot of on a hot day. I ordered my own immediately, and jotted down ingredients, but I was so consumed during that season with a certain tabbouleh salad and eating the cherries out-of-hand that I never got around to it.

Then the sandwich(es) happened and I couldn't wait to get my hands on enough tomatoes to make a peach gazpacho. Something about salt and pepper and fruit with herbs apparently has my attention this season.


As I eluded to a friend of mine who might move back to Vancouver, B.C. from California, the abundance and early arrival of fruit here in the Valley is the best consolation during this triple digit heat wave. We might break a sweat cooking breakfast eggs at 8am, but at least we have tomatoes and peaches. At least I have this soup to help cool me down. And now, so do you!

Tomato-Peach Gazpacho

I am very partial to cilantro in this soup, but I have also tried it with basil, tarragon, and parsley, though not all at the same time. All lovely. Substitute accordingly depending on availability, audience, and whim.

Also, it occurred to me post-making and eating that this actually could be a fine base for salsa too. If you are so inclined, I recommend increasing the amounts of the shallots, garlic, and cilantro, adding a little green pepper (hot and milk), and simply chopping it all up, not blending. Let me know if you try something!

2 pounds yellow peaches
2 pounds tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1 medium shallot, about 2 tablespoons, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
juice of half a lime or lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, maybe more
1/2-1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, finely minced, plus more ribboned for garnish

Skin the peaches and tomatoes by first blanching in boiling water for a minute or two. Chop and place in a large bowl. Reserve at least a cup of the peaches to add back in after you blend, and don't forget to squeeze all the water from the skins of the tomatoes and add them to your chopped fruits. It's good!

Add  all remaining ingredients except the cilantro and blend until almost smooth (more smooth if you really like bisque, less smooth if you like chunky soups). Refrigerate for at least two hours, probably more if you live in a hot climate (took me four hours to chill thoroughly, but it's over a hundred!).

When the soup is well-chilled, stir in the cilantro, and taste. Need something? More salt? More zing? Add vinegar or lime juice. More bite? Add pepper. More herbs? Be my guest. Serve cold with good bread, olive oil for dipping, and garnished with extra herbs, if you like. Enjoy!

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