Hot summery nights call for cooling dinners. Or lunches, or brunches, because where I am it is pretty much the same temperature all day and night. This dish cools you down, is packed with fresh vegetables AND can cope very well with adding vodka or sherry to it for a Spanish Bloody Mary. Hey, a lot of people are still on holidays!
The beauty of making this recipe with a Thermomix is it takes away the need for the fiddly process of removing skins and seeds as blending it in the final step crushes everything into a smooth, smooth rosy liquid. You can adjust the flavours as necessary. Add more or less garlic. Boost the vinegar. I find many gazpacho recipes too heavy on the vinegar which makes the fresh flavours of the vegetables disappear under a face contorting tang. The gazpachos we had in Spain (did I mention I’ve travelled?) were fresh and zingy with just a hint of vinegary sharpness. Its all about balance.
This recipe is a conversion of the gazpacho andaluz in Movida, a beautiful cookbook from the Melbourne chef (and now Australia wide restauranteur) Frank Camorra. I’ve never eaten at Movida, but I just heard that there is a new one at Sydney airport, so it could be something to cross off for 2014 next time I’m visiting family. Thanks Kay for the heads up on that one!
Roughly chop (halves or quarters) 1kg tomatoes, throw into Thermomix bowl and puree on Speed 7 for 20 seconds. Deseed one red and one green capsicum and quarter. Roughly chop 2 lebanese cucumbers and a red onion. Peel a garlic clove. Throw them all in the bowl with the blended tomato. Chop it all up on Speed 7 for 20 seconds then blend on 9 for 1 minute. Add 100 ml olive oil and 10-20g vinegar. The recipe says 60ml vinegar and to use aged sherry vinegar. I prefer less vinegar. I added apple cider vinegar because I don’t have aged sherry vinegar and because I have the apple cider vinegar with the mother and am still on the idea that it might have added health benefits. If you want a clearer, crisper taste I would recommend adding just a nice dry sherry. Whichever you add, taste as you go so you don’t wreck the flavour with too much sharpness outweighing the fresh flavours. Add a teaspoon of salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Blend again on Speed 5 for 10 seconds.
At this point your Thermomix is going to be pretty full. The last step is easier done in two batches. Its a bit of a pain, but it does save cleaning up a lot of soup running all over the place if you don’t split it up. Do this step just before serving so the soup is icy cold. Pour half out and set aside. Add two handfuls of ice cubes and blend on Speed 9 (go up slowly so as not to frighten your MC to halfway across the room) for 1 minute. Do the same with the second half. Check consistency and thin if necessary by stirring in some chilled water.
Serve with some fresh ground black pepper and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (mint, basil, chives, parsley – depends on your mood and international flavour profile). If you are in a party frame of mind mix with vodka and serve in shot glasses. Or go hipster with jar glasses and silver straws (thanks Miriam for mine!). Or go 70s Bloody Mary style with a big celery swizzel stick. Anyhow you have it – enjoy!
I visited Sydney over the weekend which reinforced that soup weather feeling. It was COOOOLLLLDDD!! We have been accused of turning into Queenslanders by our Sydney family. Requesting electric blankets for the bed may have encouraged this kind of statist labeling.
A delightful roast chicken on our first night made chicken soup making irresistible. Chicken noodle soup has held a place in my heart since Kirralyn Rayworth gave me a sample of what was in her Mickey Mouse thermos in primary school. So warm on a cold, rainy day in the playground. So flavoursome with the added bonus of slippery soft little strips of noodle. It could have been from a packet mix or a can for all I knew, I just knew it was really good and I wanted a Mickey Mouse thermos.
To the soup making then. Strip the remaining meat off the cold chicken carcass for adding later to the soup. I also cut the carcass in half so it fits into the Thermomix basket. Next throw a peeled, quartered onion and some peeled garlic cloves into the Thermomix bowl. Match amount of garlic cloves to amount of sneezing and coughing in your house. Chop em up for a couple of seconds on Speed 7. Spatula the sides to put it all back in the bottom. Add 20g olive oil then saute for 2 minutes on 100 degrees, Speed 1. Meanwhile roughly chop some carrot, leek, celery, whatever you have looking soup worthy in the vegetable drawer. Put them in the basket with the chicken carcass and a handful of any herbs you have at hand. Perhaps pop in a bay leaf. I have never been convinced that bay leaves contribute anything at all, but they are always in recipes so I figure what the hey. One day I plan to grow some bay leaves so I have them fresh and can really tell what flavour they are. Some whole peppercorns on top. A sprinkling of salt. If you are going for a slightly Asian flavour a hunk of fresh ginger. The Everyday Cookbook often suggests adding Kombu (seaweed) to stocks. I think it adds nutritional value. Probably should look that up. I have never sought it out, but plan to one day. Chuck a small piece of that in if it does live in your pantry. Set temperature at 100 degrees, speed 2 or 3 for 35-45 minutes. Go see what the kids are up to. Or make yourself a beverage. Or catch up on shows taking up space on your TV hard drive. Don’t bother hanging out the washing because if it isn’t currently raining it will be soon.
Once the time is finished what you have is chicken stock. At this stage you gingerly remove the basket with the spatula and dump contents (maybe cool it down in the sink for a bit so it doesn’t melt your garbage bag). Taste the remaining liquid to check for seasoning. If it needs a flavour boost you can always add a tablespoon of vegetable stock concentrate (the one you made when your lovely consultant delivered your Thermomix). To make soup add some thin slices of carrot or mushroom or both, the shredded chicken pieces you reserved earlier and a couple of handfuls of dried noodles to the liquid in the bowl. I picked up some perfect soup noodles from our local butcher who sells an amazing variety of things in quite a small shop. These noodles appear to be German in origin and are just the right texture for soups. Set temperature to 100 degrees and cook for 3-4 minutes on Reverse, Speed Soft. Timing depends on your noodle, so check on these after a couple of minutes to see how much longer they need. The carrot, mushroom and chicken pieces don’t really need cooking, just a little softening and warming through. I like the carrot to retain a little crunch so cook for longer if you want them softer. To add a bit of heat and fresh flavour sprinkle the finished soup with some fresh parsley, chopped spring onion and chopped long red chilli. Match with Tsing Tao beer to take you back to the days you spent taking in an early dinner at Happy Chef in Sydney’s Chinatown on a lazy Sunday evening, before walking all that liquid off on the way back home.
Sure. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting soup. Or vegetable. But whiz it up with some potato to thicken, perhaps some truffle oil if you are being fancy (I just happen to have some in the pantry at all times), sprinkle with cracked black pepper, fresh parsley and some crisped pancetta chips (bacon will do) and you have yourself a high end meal. Even for those ‘soup is not a meal’ folk out there, pair this soup with some gruyere on toast melted in the grill and it will be hard to argue that all the food groups are not getting fair representation.
Having a Thermomix has made me enjoy making soup in a way I have never before. I have dabbled with soups in the past. They have never met my standards. The cooking of the vegetables then transferring to a food processor was the kind of hassle that loses that therapeutic feeling most cooking gives me. Or the draining of a giant stockpot into a colander over a bowl in the sink. I’m not very coordinated so many times hot liquid was splashed about causing not only interesting shaped burns but also a mess that made me regret embarking on the whole process in the first place. Also I have a talent for always choosing a container that is too small for whatever I am trying to pour into it. I don’t know why. But I do it every time.
However, forgive my bias, the Thermomix has changed things. Soups are a breeze, a joy. Just chop onion and garlic in the bowl. Add around 20g oil and saute on 100 degrees for 2-3 minutes on speed 1. Fill the basket with your vegetables of choice (in this case mostly cauliflower, plus about 2 peeled potatoes cut in half). Pour 1 litre of water plus 3 tablespoons of your concentrated vegetable stock (or if you want to keep the soup a whiter colour use 1 litre of chicken stock, which you have of course made previously in the Thermomix) into the bowl. Place the vegetable laden basket inside the bowl and cook for 15 minutes at 100 degrees on Speed 1. Test that the veggies are soft. If not, cook for a further 5 minutes. Add a good splash of truffle oil at this stage, maybe some cumin if you feel like another layer of flavour. Then blend it to a smooth puree (with the MC on) on Speed 9 for 1 minute. Decorate as described above for maximum wow.
The Everyday Cookbook has another version. Recipe Community has a Neil Perry conversion as well which sounds extremely tasty. Of course it has more cream and such. Thermomix recipes are there for the experimenting. Its so easy to do. You’ve just got to try it.