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Cucumber Gazpacho

The warm weather is finally sneaking up on us and soon will remain for a while, and I'm thinking refreshing cold soups and beverages; something that quenches my thirst on a hot Summer day.

Gazpacho is one of those chilled soups, I've never been crazy about. It's a lot of raw tomato, and most of the time the tomatoes aren't so great. Too tangy, starchy, and just blah! Of course if we've had a lot of sun and the tomatoes are particularly sweet, then a good gazpacho is in order.

The one day I set out to create gazpacho, I couldn't find a descent tomato. They were tart and without balance. For any recipe, you need a strong base. This means that the main ingredient has to be superb in every way possible. That day, I was down on tomatoes, but I wanted something refreshing still. I decided to deconstruct the classic gazpacho and turn things around a bit, making the cucumber the main ingredient and the base of my recipe, while the tomato became the garnish. Here is how it went...

Serves 4 to 6

2 English "seedless" cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped

2 medium to large tomatillos, peeled

1 jalapeno, seeded

Spring or filtered water (be conservative and start with 1/4 cup; only add as needed to blend)

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium tomato (sweet, ideally), quartered, seeded, and finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced red onion

Roasted cumin seeds to taste

8 sprigs cilantro, stems trimmed, left whole or chopped

1. In a blender, add the cucumbers, tomatillos, jalapeño, lime juice, vinegar and water (adding more if necessary), and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, mix well and chill until ready to use. (Take out of refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before serving. It should be served lightly chilled, not cold.)

2. To serve, divide the cucumber gazpacho among 4 to 6 soup bowls (or ballon glasses as picture above). Top with a small amount each of bell pepper, tomato, tomato, and red onion. Sprinkle with roasted cumin seeds and garnish with cilantro.

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