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2 Cold Summertime Soups: Gazpacho and Cucumber Yogurt Soup

Cynthia fell in love with gazpacho when she studied abroad in Spain. She re-creates the recipe here.

Gazpacho soup garnished with avocado and lime

Gazpacho soup garnished with avocado and lime

Summer Vegetable Soup Recipes to Combat the Heat

I haven’t been to Spain since 2005 when I was studying as a student. One of my most poignant memories, however, was touring southern Spain. It was June and southern Spain is reminiscent of a desert—it’s quite arid.

I was in the town of Córdoba in the Andalucía region. The people in my group were tired, hungry and thirsty after visiting numerous incredible places, like the Alhambra. The first thing that popped to mind for lunch was gazpacho. I knew it came from the region of Andalucía. I had to try some, now.

We stepped into a quaint little restaurant with a beautiful, tiled terrace. Soft Spanish guitar music was playing and a few overhead fans were doing their best to move the hot, dry air.

Then, I fell in love. The camarero (waiter) brought out gazpacho and I have never been the same since.

In the years since the day I first tried gazpacho, I’ve attempted to re-create that zesty taste I remember from the restaurant. Though I have come close, there’s nothing that quite substitutes for actually being in the middle of the culture that specializes in a particular cuisine. My recipe for gazpacho is good, but I admit I have a hankering to go back to Spain—if just to try this delectable soup in its home region another time.

The Andalucia Region of Spain

Gazpacho Is Vegetarian

As I said, I think I’ve come close to getting the gazpacho to taste like the one I enjoyed in Andalucía. This recipe is perfect for a hot summer day when you have no intention of going near a stove to cook. The only electricity I used was for the blender. Even then, historically, resident cooks made this soup using a mortar and pestle.

The advantage of using a mortar and pestle is that you don’t get bubbly froth that rests on the top of the soup after using a blender. But, since I don’t have a mortar and pestle and I do have a blender, I used that.

Plus, if you ever have a blackout in the summer from everyone trying to use their air conditioner, rest assured, you’ll still be able to make this soup—if you have a mortar and pestle.

Though this soup is said to come from southern Spain, before that there is speculation that the Moors brought a precursor of gazpacho from Morocco. The Moors occupied Spain from the early 700s to the early 1400s, but they came from the desert regions of Africa. I’d guess they knew a thing or two about trying to cool off.

Gather the freshest ingredients possible for really good gazpacho soup.

Gather the freshest ingredients possible for really good gazpacho soup.

Recipe 1: Gazpacho

Prep time: 15 min

Ready in: 3 hours 15 min

Yields: 6 or more servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tomatoes, large, vine-ripened or organic
  • 1 cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves,
  • 1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • dash Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 (14-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients, a little at a time, into blender, except Worchestershire sauce. Make "layers" with them to mix them up better. Once all ingredients are in, sprinkle just a little bit of Worchestershire sauce on top.
  2. Blend for about 30 seconds and repeat until you have used up all the ingredients.
  3. Pour into a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  4. Garnish with avocado, croutons, more tomatoes, or a slice of lime. Enjoy.

Photo Guide: Gazpacho

You'll be mixing the ingredients in the blender, but it helps to "mix" them as you put them in - sort of like layers.

You'll be mixing the ingredients in the blender, but it helps to "mix" them as you put them in - sort of like layers.

Add a little Worchestershire sauce for each batch you do.

Add a little Worchestershire sauce for each batch you do.

Blend for about 30 seconds, or less if you want a chunkier gazpacho soup.

Blend for about 30 seconds, or less if you want a chunkier gazpacho soup.

After blending, pour into a bowl.

After blending, pour into a bowl.

Mix the gazpacho a little before covering and placing in refrigerator.  Chill for 2-3 hours.

Mix the gazpacho a little before covering and placing in refrigerator. Chill for 2-3 hours.

Tips for Making Gazpacho

  • You may not fit all the ingredients into the blender the first time. That's okay—just divide it and do smaller batches until you've used up all the ingredients.
  • Blend for only 10-20 seconds if you want a chunkier soup.
  • If you don't have 2-3 hours to chill the soup, add a little ice to the blender to cool it down quickly.
  • Serve with a side of rolls or crackers.
  • You'll make vegetarians and vegans alike happy with this soup as there are no animal products in the ingredients.
  • It's best to use organic versions of all the ingredients if you can. The taste of a homegrown or organic tomato is simply tantalizing. An out-of-season or non-organic tomato simply won't taste as good and since tomatoes are the main ingredient, the soup won't be as good.
  • Once you've made this soup and know what it's supposed to taste like, you can experiment. Try adding avocado, seafood, or even hard-boiled egg to the blender.
Delicious cucumber yogurt soup

Delicious cucumber yogurt soup

Recipe 2: Cucumber Yogurt Soup

If you’re not much of a tomato fan, you still have options. I love cucumbers and they’re known for their cooling qualities in food. Even if you love tomatoes, this cucumber soup offers an alternative. It’s a sort of cucumber gazpacho, if you will.

I call it cucumber gazpacho because I derived the idea originally from regular gazpacho.

You still need to chill it, and its ingredients are still light and delicate, save the yogurt. Still, the yogurt is cold and creamy and goes a long way toward cooling you down in the heat of the day.

Again, you don’t need a stove. You just need a blender.

Cucumber yogurt soup garnished with avocado and sour cream.

Cucumber yogurt soup garnished with avocado and sour cream.

Prep time: 15 min

Ready in: 3 hours 15 min

Yields: 6 or more servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 white wine vinegar
  • 2 juice from two limes (about 2 tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dill
Fresh ingredients are also key to a great cold cucumber soup.

Fresh ingredients are also key to a great cold cucumber soup.

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients into blender.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Chill for 2-3 hours in refrigerator.
  4. Garnish with avocado, sour cream, croutons, chopped tomato, or lime. Enjoy.

Photo Guide: Cucumber Yogurt Soup

Layer all ingredients for cucumber soup into the blender.

Layer all ingredients for cucumber soup into the blender.

You'll need four cucumbers, plain yogurt, white wine vinegar, garlic, lime, dill and half of a green pepper to make cold cucumber soup.

You'll need four cucumbers, plain yogurt, white wine vinegar, garlic, lime, dill and half of a green pepper to make cold cucumber soup.

Blend for about 30 seconds to get a smooth texture (less if you want your soup more chunky).

Blend for about 30 seconds to get a smooth texture (less if you want your soup more chunky).

Pour into a bowl and chill for three hours.

Pour into a bowl and chill for three hours.

Tips for Making Cold Cucumber Soup

  • If you don't have white wine vinegar, distilled white vinegar will work, too.
  • If the ingredients don't all fit into the blender, just do it in smaller batches.
  • Just as for the gazpacho, if you don't have enough time to chill it in the refrigerator, add a few ice cubes to the blender to help cool it.
  • I love garlic. You can always take out a clove if you're not that keen on it. Two cloves produce an almost electric taste that I crave.
  • The dill is really important in the soup. It gives it an extra zing.
  • You can try other ingredients, too. Try adding a few pieces of avocado, a little bit of tomato, a dollop of sour cream, or croutons in and blend with the rest of the ingredients.
  • You can even blend the two soups—a little gazpacho with a little cold cucumber soup. This makes a really delicious combination.
  • Some readers have suggested that this soup is better on the second day than on the first. I tend to agree. Just plan accordingly if you want the fullest flavor.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun