On days like these, hot, sunny and humid, I really don’t feel like eating much unless it is cool and refreshing and full of flavor. If it were entirely up to me, I would make my favorite crab gazpacho soup with avocados several times during these hot Texas summer days. However, I have been happily married for 51 years and two things my husband doesn’t care for are avocados and cold soup. He says, “A cold soup is not soup. Soup isn’t soup unless it is hot.” And he loves any and all hot soups I make so I try to keep my delicious cold soup making down to only a couple times a year. Oh, and don’t even get me started on pumpkin soup; he says it is like drinking a pie. So, I make my cold soups for people who truly enjoy them. Often my daughters and girlfriend will get together with me at our home for a lunch of refreshing cold soup, warm bread from the oven and a few glasses of sparkling wine! I always invite them by saying “Come on over for some great Spanish gazpacho” and the answer is usually “We are on our way.”

Little did I know gazpacho has its roots in Italy. I always thought this soup had its origins in Spain. Yes, of course there is a Spanish gazpacho; however, it is said the origins of gazpacho can be traced back to ancient Roman Empire history. Supposedly Roman soldiers that were deployed to fight battles would have in their (K-rations) of stale bread, garlic and olive oil. When the troops stopped to eat, they would use whatever they could find like large concave stones, shells or hollow pieces of wood or maybe even their helmets (that last one was a guess on my part) to create makeshift mortar bowls. They would then quickly pound, crush and grind the bread, garlic and oil that they carried into a wet and oily paste like substance. It was now a cold but very nutritional soup that would sustain them as they marched into battle. I don’t suggest you try making the old Italian recipe created by the armies of Italy. However, on hot humid days like today, one of the following cool refreshing and delicious cold soups could be a nice light one to try. “Please Join our Table” as we chill while enjoying these cool soups.

 

My Crab Gazpacho Soup with Avocado

My husband is not a gazpacho fan, however I am. I have to ask, “How can you love TexMex salsa and not like gazpacho?”

 

INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup each of diced celery, bell pepper and onions

1/2 cup English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) tomato soup, condensed

1 1/2 cup V-8 regular or spicy, your choice

1 tablespoon each, white wine vinegar and Italian dressing from a jar

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic sal

4 dashes Tabasco

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 avocados, peeled, coarsely chopped and squirted with juice of 1 lemon, set in fridge

1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt, plain

1 pound lump crab meat, cleaned or 1 can caviar or both

Juice of 2 lemons

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, mix all together except the crab, sour cream and avocados. Cover and chill for 4 hours. Pour into individual bowls (chilled bowls are a nice touch), top with sour cream, avocado and crab in that order. Squeeze fresh lemon on top

 

Gazpacho with Watermelon and Cucumbers

I love gazpacho and this is one of my favorites. It is so refreshing, and a bit spicy but surprisingly not really very sweet. It was inspired from a recipe given to me in the early 1980s by a member of the Auxiliary Petroleum Engineers Club (APEC) in Corpus Christi, Texas. Unfortunately, I can’t remember her name to give her credit, so I’m thanking the entire APEC Club!

 

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup blanched, slivered almonds

1 cup loosely packed parsley

1 stalk celery, cut into chunks

1 dozen cherry tomatoes

1 clove garlic

1 1/2 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

About 5 (2 pounds) seedless English cucumbers

About 2 pounds (8 cups) peeled and cubed watermelon rind, light pink and light green parts, remove dark green outer skin

1-2 tablespoons cucumber flavored vodka or use rice wine vinegar, more as needed

1/2 tablespoon jalapeño salt for a bit of a kick or just sea salt to taste

 

TOPPINGS

1-tablespoon fresh tarragon, chiffonade chopped

12 cucumber discs/slices, finely sliced or pickled watermelon rind

1-2 jalapeno finely minced jalapeño or jalapeño pepper or salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS: In a food chopper, food processor or blender, combine almonds, herbs, celery, tomatoes, garlic, bread and oil. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Cut the cucumbers into chunks. Combine cucumbers, watermelon rind, vinegar and salt in the chopper or blender or food processor. Adding a little at a time, pulse until smooth. Whisk this into the large bowl that contains the other puréed ingredients. For a smoother texture, purée all in a blender in batches. Whisk together well. Taste, adding salt (vodka or vinegar) as needed. Chill 2 hours or overnight. Remove from fridge, stir, adjust seasonings again. Taste for salt again. Serve in individual bowls topped with the tarragon and jalapeño and a slice of cucumber. Serves 8-12.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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