Summer has come to Montana with scorching temperatures that are making chilled soups from the bounty of summer gardens even more enticing. Originally from the Andalousian region of Spain, the soup began with dried bread, olive oil and garlic. Tomatoes and peppers, native ingredients of the Americas, were added once the Spanish explorers returned from the New World. Gazpacho is often called a liquid salad, with good reason, as this cold soup combines these raw summer garden veggies along with cucumbers, onions, spices and fresh herbs. Today in Spain, this soup is most commonly puréed and placed in the refrigerator and used as a refreshing and nutritious drink, (a wholesome and delicious alternative to high-fructose soft drinks). The Portuguese prefer to dice the ingredients for a chunkier texture. This version is one I have developed with New World influences of Latin American flavors. It is very easy to put together but does require a bit of knife work to dice ingredients. It introduces shrimp for a clean saltiness accented with Mexican spices, fresh citrus and herbs. I include instructions for cooking your own shrimp, but you may also use pre-cooked bay shrimp. It is important that all ingredients are very cold when put together for service. This makes a lovely starter for both brunch and warm summer cook-outs, and although there are peppers this is not “spicy hot.” Your guests will appreciate the cool refreshing flavor and elegant texture of summer’s bounty.
1 Qt. low sodium V-8 (or, strained fresh tomato juice if you have it)
1 Cup strained tomatoes
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili garlic Cholula hot sauce
1/8 Tsp. cumin, ground
1/8 Tsp. Old Bay seasoning
To taste Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Shrimp Cooking Liquid:
5 Qt. water
1/4 Tsp. Old Bay seasoning
2 scallion, green ends
1/2 pound shrimp, 31-40 count per pound, cooked and small diced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, small diced
1 cup hot house cucumber, small diced
1/3 cup red onion, very small diced
6 colorful cherry tomatoes, sliced across not lengthwise
1 Tbsp. Anaheim peppers, minced
1 Tbsp. Jalapeno pepper, minced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed and then chopped
10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Combine tomato juice and strained tomato with citrus and spices and refrigerate to blend flavors for a minimum of two hours or overnight.
Combine spices and lemon with water. Bring to boil. Add shrimp until pink and slightly firm (not hard). Remove shrimp with a handled strainer and immediately place in iced water to stop cooking process. Once chilled, dice and refrigerate.
Dice vegetable garnishes and mince fresh herbs, then refrigerate.
Add all vegetable garnish and herbs to service bowls and pour over garnish.
Serve with fresh lemon and lime wedge on the side. Enjoy!
Manda Hudak is the Savory Chef Instructor at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.
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