Chilled Tomato Soup: Cold and Frothy

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Gazpacho: Chilled Tomato Soup

It’s hot in Los Angeles. It might even get to 100 degrees later this week. It’s not supposed to be hot here. It’s supposed to be 76 and sunny. But, more and more it seems, it gets hot in LA. When that happens a cold soup – full of ripe, summery flavor – is a refreshing relief. This one is a Chilled Tomato Soup with a smooth, frothy texture and a big dollop of savory whipped cream. I could call this cold summer soup gazpacho. Ludo Lefebvre, the chef who inspired this version, did – but I’m not going to. True it’s a Chilled Tomato Soup featuring raw vegetables, but this summer tomato soup is more delicate than its rustic Spanish cousin.

GazpachoStrawberries

Chilled Tomato Soup

In my book, traditional gazpacho has a bit more texture than this Chilled Tomato Soup. The traditional texture usually comes from bread or sometimes even nuts. I realize some claim that a gazpacho with bread is properly known as a salmorejo. Both these cold summer soups are Andalusian peasant dishes designed to stretch summer’s bounty to its absolute limit. However, if you want to get that technical I’d have to say the really proper, old-fashioned way to make gazpacho or salmorejo is to chop everything finely by hand and stir it together in a large, chipped ceramic bowl passed down from la cocina de mamá. Which produces a beautifully rustic texture no machine could ever match.

There are other differences between this Chilled Tomato Soup and a classic gazpacho and many of them are French influenced. The tomatoes are peeled and seeded. It seems the French are mad for peeled tomatoes in any and all instances. I guess it’s a presentation thing, but it’s impossible to go to a fancy French restaurant and find a tomato with its skin intact. Can you imagine the tedium of the person whose job it is to peel all those tomatoes?

Speaking of the presentation I also have to mention the pretty color of this Chilled Tomato Soup because even the reddest of ripe tomatoes will produce a gazpacho that falls somewhere between pink and orange. That’s because of the emulsified olive oil in the mix. Some of the worst gazpacho recipes I’ve seen try to make up for this perceived chromatic deficiency by adding lip-stick red, canned tomato juice. Chef Ludo Lefebvre improves the color presentation of this soup just slightly with a few well-chosen ripe red strawberries.

But I have to get back to the texture. That’s where the difference really shines. This soup should be very smooth and whipped full of air until it’s light and frothy. You need to make this soup at least an hour ahead so that it can properly chill. Don’t forget to give it an extra whirl in the blender at the very moment you serve it for the best frothy effect.

Well, with all that said, the real secret to great gazpacho or Chilled Tomato Soup is to use the very best ingredients and a cold, cold fridge on a hot, hot day. GREG

Peeled Tomatoes

Smooth, Cool, and Frothy Chilled Gazpacho

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Adapted from Ludo LefebvrePublished
Smooth, Cool, and Frothy Chilled Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 6 very ripe summer tomatoes
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 5 fresh strawberries (stemmed and halved)
  • ¼ red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
  • ¼ pound spring onion (white parts only, chopped)
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup very good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-3 tablespoon water (if needed)
  • kosher salt and white pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 ½ cup whipping cream
  • Esplette pepper (as needed for garnish, or substitute with paprika if you prefer)
  • fresh basil leaves (as needed for garnish)

Directions

Peel the tomatoes: Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and place it near the stove. Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, using a very sharp paring knife make a shallow cross on the bottom (non-stem) end of the tomatoes. Then, with a slotted spoon drop each tomato into the boiling water for about 30 seconds or until the skins begins to peel back at the cross. Using the slotted spoon transfer them to the ice bath to cool quickly. After the tomato has cooled gently pull on the peel where the scored skin has begun to split. The skin will slip off easily.

Remove the seeds from the tomatoes: Core the stem end and then cut the peeled tomatoes in half. Working over a bowl to catch the seeds and juice squeeze out the seeds. Use your fingers to coax them from the hidden nooks and crevices. Don’t worry if you crush the tomatoes in the process. Place the seeded tomato pulp into a high-powered blender as you work. Once all the tomatoes are finished, strain the seeds from the juice and add the tomato juice to the blender. Discard the seeds.

Make the chilled gazpacho: Peel the cucumber then remove and discard the seeds with a spoon. Roughly chop the remaining flesh. Place in the blender with the tomatoes. Then add the halved strawberries, chopped red bell pepper, chopped onion, chopped garlic, vinegar and Dijon mustard to the blender also. Place the lid on securely and blend the mixture until it’s fairly smooth and uniform. Then, with the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil until the soup is very smooth, well-emulsified and frothy. You may need to drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of water to adjust consistency. Use your judgment. Season with salt and white pepper. Chill the soup at least one hour and up to 12 hours.

Make the whipped cream: In a very cold bowl whisk the cream by hand until it comes to soft peaks. Season with a pinch each salt and white pepper. Chill the soup at least one hour and up to 12 hours.

Serve the chilled gazpacho: Just before serving, remove the soup from the refrigerator and taste it for seasoning. It may need a touch of vinegar or more salt and pepper, use your judgment. Once seasoned blend the soup again on high speed until frothy.

Pour the chilled gazpacho into individual chilled soup bowls. Add a generous dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with a sprinkle of Esplette pepper and a few basil leaves. Serve immediately.

 

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