By Addie Broyles
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Tomato season is finally here, and if you have some backyard Early Girls or San Marzanos from the farmers market, you might be looking for ways to use them outside of sandwiches and tomato sauce.
Melissa Clark's take on gazpacho takes it from Spain to France, the cuisine of her latest book, "Dinner in French." Clark has enjoyed this cold, refreshing soup on menus throughout France, and when she makes it, she adds some cubes of watermelon to lighten up the soup, which can become quite garlicky and salty if you're not careful. She also purees the mixture with half a jalapeño for some heat to balance the sweetness; adjust according to your preference.
You can use a food processor instead of a blender for this, and don't leave out the croutons. Even if you don't have stale brioche rolls, find some bread and toast it in a pan. The contrast of textures is what makes this dish extraordinary.
Gazpacho by Way of Provence
Gazpacho may not have originated in France, but the French have adopted it so fully that almost all summer menus feature at least some version of the cold tomato-based soup. I like to puree watermelon into mine; it makes the chilled soup sweeter and also a little lighter - a quality that I quickly mitigate by topping it with buttery brioche croutons. The jalapeño adds a touch of spice to the mix, but not so much that you really feel it on your tongue. It stays in the background, adding vibrant complexity. Leave in the seeds if you want more heat.
- Melissa Clark
Thinking ahead: Because gazpacho is served cold, you must prepare it in advance and chill it in the refrigerator for 4 hours or as long as overnight.
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
2 cups (about 1 pound) cubed seeded watermelon
1/2 jalapeno, seeded if you want to mitigate the heat
1 shallot, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 large or 2 small brioche rolls, preferably a day old
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence (optional)
In a blender, combine the tomatoes, watermelon, jalapeno, shallot and garlic. Blend until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the basil, salt, vinegar and mint; blend to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in 1/3 cup oil and blend until emulsified, adding more oil if needed - the gazpacho will turn bright pink or orange.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding the solids. Chill it for at least 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, taste the soup and add more salt and/or vinegar if needed.
Make the croutons: When you are ready to serve the gazpacho, slice the brioche rolls into 1/2-inch-wide strips, then use your fingers to tear off 1/2-inch cubes, to make about 1 cup of cubes.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the bread cubes and the herbes de Provence, if using, and cook, tossing the croutons often, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the croutons to a paper towel-lined plate and let them cool.
Serve the gazpacho topped with the croutons and chopped basil, and drizzled with a little more oil, if you like.
Serves 4 to 6.
- From "Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France: A Cookbook" by Melissa Clark (Clarkson Potter, $37.50)
Addie Broyles writes about food for the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @broylesa