Herbed Gazpacho

One of the first dishes I made in my first apartment after graduating from college was gazpacho — it was cheap and easy and impressed those first guests I had for dinner. I’d made it with my mom as a teenager, but I enjoyed making it on my own, too, as that’s when I began playing around with ingredients. I’ve always loved its cool freshness, particularly on dog days like the ones we’re living in right now. Our garden produced cherry tomatoes by the bushel this summer, so we’ve enjoyed a lot of my gazpacho, which includes the basil, oregano, and thyme we have growing in abundance, too. White balsamic vinegar gives it an extra lilt, with a softer edge than red or white wine vinegar. My favorite presentation is with toasted sourdough — either slices or croutons — that I’ve brushed with olive oil and dried herbs. The crunchy toast texture against the tart veggie soup is heavenly.

2 pounds cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 (6-ounce) can tomato juice

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 red onion, roughly chopped

1 serrano chile, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 handful fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

2 to 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 limes, juiced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sweet paprika 

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing well to thoroughly combine.

Using a food processor or blender, puree about 3/4 of the mixture until fairly smooth; you’ll need to do this in batches. Leave about ¼ of the mixture in its roughly chopped state. Combine everything into one bowl again, cover, and chill thoroughly (3 hours to overnight) until ready to serve. Top with toasted sourdough croutons or serve with toasted sourdough slices.

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