Even though it's Memorial Day weekend, Roni and I decided to stay at home, relax, catch up on our passion projects and ultimately save some money. It all worked out great, except for the relaxation part. It feels like it's been one of my busiest weekends lately and without realizing it time flew by and it's Monday already. It's crazy how fast long weekends seem to pass. The good news is that long weekends are followed by short work weeks, so at least we've got that going for us.
It's been raining nonstop here in Austin lately. I can't remember the last rain-free day. I have never experienced something like this in the four years that I spent in this town. It's as if monsoon season made its way across the Pacific and into the Gulf of Mexico. I know it's beneficial for the lakes around town, but I'm tired of waking up to thunder shaking our house in the middle of the night. I’m especially sick of the swarms of mosquitoes that eat you alive as soon as you step foot outside.
I can't wait for the sunny days when we can go to Barton Springs (which by the way is currently flooded). I want to lay in the sun and take a plunge in the cold water afterwords. I want to get a nice tan, play soccer in Zilker Park, and to be finally able to play fetch with Popsi in the backyard without having to hose the mud off of her.
That is the spirit I cooked this soup in- the hot days of summer when all you crave is a cold and refreshing meal. This soup recipe may be my most simple one. It requires just a little bit of effort: chop the ingredients, let them marinate in the refrigerator and lastly puree them to a silky smooth consistency.
Cold vegetable soups are not too common in Eastern Europe. In Hungary we have cold summer soups, but usually they are made out of fruit. The sour cherry cream soup is one of my favorites and I plan on sharing the recipe sometime soon.
As far as gazpacho is concerned, I didn't know too much about it until about 5 years ago when I was visiting a good friend of mine in Barcelona. It was an eye opening experience. “How have I never thought to make this before?", I thought to myself. It was so delicious that I ate it every single day that I spent there and every time I return to Barcelona I begin my trip with a cold bowl of gazpacho.
The idea of this soup came to me when Roni and I were having friends over for dinner. I made Beef Bourguignon as the entrée, so I wanted a very light appetizer. My Romanian heritage makes me almost always choose soups over salads, so I decided to go with this gazpacho as an appetizer. I served it with pickled shrimp (recipe to come soon), but if you're vegetarian, skip the shrimp and serve it with roasted sunflower seeds and smoked paprika. The nuttiness and crunchiness of the seeds will bring out the sweet taste and smooth texture of the gazpacho.
The recipe is easily modifiable to accommodate vegans, too. Just skip the yogurt and you've got yourself a vegan delight! The final result will taste as good as the original recipe, but it won't be as creamy. Enjoy!
Cucumber and Avocado Gazpacho
Prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- 2 English cucumbers, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
- 1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
- 4 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 TBS honey
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar, mirin, or a mix of both
- 1/4 cup yogurt, optional
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 1/2 cups cold water
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
- In a large bowl combine cucumbers, avocado, jalapeño, basil, lemon juice, honey, vinegar, yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well until cucumbers are evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Transfer mix to a food processor and puree until it becomes smooth. Add water and pulse for an extra minute. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve gazpacho cold with smoked paprika and roasted sunflower seeds on top.