Sunday, August 11, 2013

Another cold soup for hot days!

                 A few weeks ago I gave you a recipe for a chilled pear soup with cardamom. I was surprised at the number of emails I received saying they’d tried it and loved it, and asking for more chilled soups.
                The second best part about chilled soups—the very best part is how tasty and refreshing they are in summer—is that they must be done ahead.  That leaves your time just before serving dinner free for other tasks, or for just socializing.
                This soup is based on a recipe I found in the French culinary magazine Cuisine et Vins de France. I made it once for our wine dinner club, and it was so good that I’ve served it four times since.  That’s really rare for me! It’s the perfect beginning to a main course salad dinner, or for dinner on the grill. It also makes a great brunch soup beside a quiche or frittata.
This soup will keep beautifully for several days in the fridge. I had less than a cup left the last time I served it, and it made a pretty tasty sauce over a grilled chicken breast. I think it would be good on fish or shrimp as well.
Red Bell Pepper Gazpacho with Goat Cheese
4 red bell peppers (See note below)
4 large very ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
6 oz. goat cheese crumbles, divided
1 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
                Over a very hot grill or a gas flame, or under the broiler of your oven, roast the peppers until the peel is very dark and charred, turning often. Place into a paper bag, roll the top to close and let rest until completely cool.  When cool, rub off as much of the skin as you can. You should be able to get most of it, but a little stubborn bit here and there won’t hurt. Cut in half and remove the stem, seeds and veins. Cut into chunks and place in a large glass bowl.
                Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Using a small spoon, scoop the seeds into a strainer set over a small bowl. Cut out the core and cut the unpeeled tomatoes into chunks. Add to the bowl with the peppers.
                With a rubber spatula, rub the juice around the seeds through the strainer. Discard the seeds and add the juice to the bowl, along with the garlic, sherry wine vinegar and salt. Toss to combine, cover and refrigerate at least four hours.
                Working in batches, in a blender or food processor pulse the pepper mixture with 2 tbsp. goat cheese, the honey, olive oil and basil. It should be just a little bit chunky, not perfectly smooth. Taste and add salt if needed.
                When ready to serve, pour into small glasses or clear bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining goat cheese and serve at once. Serves 6-8.
NOTE: I roasted my own peppers, but if you prefer, you can substitute two 12-oz. jars of roasted peppers, drained.

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