When the blue summer skies are cloudless in Gascony, it means heat. Temperatures this year shot up in May and have remained in the “I need a beach” range. This is the sort of heat where I leave the kitchen and look for other ways to make Summer food- picking a few leaves from the garden for salades composées; serving chilled soups. I also scour my pantry for treats I have produced over the previous year- patés, confit de canard, and hams from charcuterie classes; small brightly colored tins of seafood from Spanish grocery stores. I also have a modest stash of white asparagus we canned earlier in May. This easy recipe gives it a chance to shine.
When we were setting up for a Food Photography Workshop with Tim Clinch at Camont, I pulled this idea out of my bag of Summer tricks. White gazpachos are summer staples in Spain based on garlic, almonds and breadcrumbs. My version reflects my Southwest France kitchen with local asparagus, shallots, and garden produce. Eh voila! My chilled white asparagus and green tomato soup. Let’s call it a Gascon Gazpacho.
This white gazpacho recipe begins at the blender- the only kitchen tool you need besides a peeler and paring knife. The list of ingredients is flexible, but sticking to my rule of three, I let three main products star: cooked white asparagus, ripe Green Zebra tomatoes, and a cucumber. The rest is basic gazpacho methods- using good olive oil and vinegar and lightly seasoning with salt and pimentón– the sweet Spanish spice. I also used some lettuce trimmings since they are mostly water and mildly sweet. Chill well and have it ready to pour in small glasses when tapas are needed!
Cool Summer Soup; a Gascon Gazpacho
- 1 jar white asparagus (500 gr or 15 oz jar), drained
- 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 3 Green zebra tomatoes, peeled and chopped (reserve some tomato for the garnish)
- a handful of lettuce leaves- I used the stalk ends from trimming my salad
- 1 large shallot- peeled and shopped
- 2 cups or 1/2 liter cold water
- 1 cup / 250 ml high quality olive oil
- 1/4-1/2 Cup sherry vinegar
- salt and pimentón to taste
- pink peppercorns for garnish
Place asparagus in the blender with the cucumber, lettuce, most of the tomato, and shallot. Add the water and blend on high speed until smooth. Add most of the olive oil (reserving some for garnish), vinegar, salt, and pimenton. mix until smooth and emulsified. taste and correct seasoning. Chill. Serve in glasses or small bowls and garnish with the reserved Green Zebra tomato, pink peppercorns, and a drizzle of olive oil. Makes over a liter- enough for 8-10 small servings.
The rest of the cool Summer Food meal can reflect your shopping habits- salad, charcuterie, cheese, fruit, desserts. Just remember to keep cool and enjoy your Summer Kitchen!