Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Variations on a theme.

Here in the States, we typically think of gazpacho as a cold, tomato-based soup, usually a bit zingy thanks to the addition of garlic, onion and vinegar. Sometimes it's chunky, sometimes it's smooth, but it's pretty much always tomato-y.

In fact, traditional Spanish gazpacho is a creamy, lush soup made with soaked, stale bread, copious amounts of olive oil (hence the creamy lushness) and flavored with vegetables. Which isn't to say that our interpretation of the soup is wrong or bad; it's just that: an interpretation.

In his Simple to Spectacular cookbook, Jean-Georges Vongerichten spends several pages showing us how varied the interpretations of gazpacho have become. Tomato-melon gazpacho (a twist on the traditional inclusion of cucumber, which is, after all, a member of the melon family), a simple tomato-cucumber-red pepper incarnation, and the most unusual of the bunch: cucumber-coconut gazpacho.

Given my love of cucumbers, I supposed I shouldn't have been shocked by how delicious this soup was, but I admit it took me by surprise. I'd forgotten how rich and complex cooked cucumbers can be, and how delicious they are with fresh herbs, especially mint. And now that they're in glorious season, I'll be making this all the time. I might swap the mint out for some basil next time, and see how I go. Yum.

Cucumber and Coconut Gazpacho
Adapted from Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman

1 sweet or mild white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large cucumbers (or four Kirbies), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup mint leaves, whole
Tabasco, to taste
1 tbs. fish sauce
2 tbs. lime juice
Chopped mint (or cilantro, if you prefer) for garnishing the soup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large, straight-sided skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is slightly softened and the garlic is fragrant. Add the cucumber and sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of salt and a bit of black pepper.

Saute the vegetables for five minutes, then add the stock and cook for five minutes more, until the cucumber starts to turn tender. Add the coconut milk and cook for three more minutes, then add the mint, Tabasco, limes juice and fish sauce.

Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is very smooth. (Alternately, you can transfer the soup to a blender to puree it; do this in batches, if need be.)

Chill the soup. (If you want to serve it shortly after making it, place the pureed soup in a medium bowl and nestle it in an ice bath - spike the water with a general handful of kosher salt to speed up the process. Stir the soup frequently to aid in cooling it.) Serve garnished with mint or cilantro.

Serves four to six, depending on how hungry you all are.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

3 Researches SHOW Why Coconut Oil Kills Belly Fat.

The meaning of this is that you actually burn fat by eating coconut fat (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

These 3 studies from major medical journals are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world around!

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