As the temperatures soar, cool off with a cold bowl of soup!

I know, for some, the idea of cold soup is not very appetizing, but stay with me on this one.

My garden is bursting with ripe tomatoes and cucumbers. For this Foodie Friday, sponsored by Amalfi’s Restaurant, I dipped back into my mom's cookbooks for one of the best gazpacho recipes I have ever made.

To make this dish, you'll need very ripe tomatoes, almost to the point of being overripe. We're going to peel and seed the tomatoes as well as the cucumber, then blend them with some sherry vinegar, olive oil, and fresh basil. The result is a gazpacho that is bursting with a crisp and sweet flavor that just tastes like summer.

How to make it:

The best way to peel a tomato is to submerge into boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunge into ice water. The skin will loosen and slide right off. Next, cut the tomato into quarters. Under cold running water, take your thumb and slide it into each chamber of the tomato to remove the seeds. Chop the tomato into 1-inch pieces, avoiding any stems.

Peel and seed your cucumbers, and chop into 1-inch pieces.

Seed your red pepper, cutting out any white membranes. Chop into 1-inch pieces.

When I make this recipe, I like to blend the cucumbers and other ingredients first, then add the tomato so I can control how chunky the tomatoes are in the final product. I prefer some larger bits of tomato so they burst in your mouth and add a textured experience.

Add your cucumbers, red pepper, olive oil, and sherry vinegar and blend on "liquefy."  Now add 2 to 3 fresh basil leaves, and salt and pepper. Add about half of the tomatoes and blend on the "chop" setting. Add in the remaining tomatoes and blend for about one minute. At this point, you should have a creamy texture with little bits of tomato.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, and serve in chilled bowls.

Garnish with chopped red onion and a fresh basil leaf.

When I serve this dish, I like to let guests finish their soup with a variety of toppings. Grilled shrimp, ripe avocado, smoked eggs, bacon, and red onion are perfect accompaniments.

Note: Due to technical difficulties, there is no video of this recipe preparation, but be assured this is "Lab Approved!" Henry and I will be back next week with another great culinary adventure!

Shopping list:

  • 2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
  • 1 medium to large cucumber (peeled and seeded)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • ¼ C. olive oil
  • 1½ Tbsp. red sherry vinegar
  • ½ C. fresh basil leaves

Eric Scott is Vice President, Senior Political Director and Director of Special Projects for New Jersey 101.5. He anchors "New Jersey's First News" and weekday morning newscasts from 5 to 10 a.m., in addition to hosting a bimonthly Town Hall series.

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