Is it HOT in Here, Or Is It Just Me?

Cool Off with Summer Gazpacho

I don’t know about the weather where you are, but here in the Midwest it’s HOT. I mean it is air conditioner-is-running-24/7-HOT. In fact, I think it’s the-devil-called-and-wants-his-weather- back-HOT.

I suppose it also doesn’t help that we were the western edge of the derecho winds that blasted through the upper Atlantic region a few days ago causing nearly 2 million homes to be without the oh-so convenient electricity. Here at Bountiful Bite, we had power back in about 48 hours. Losing electricity offered me a few insights this week. I realized how utterly dependent on the grid we have become. It was challenging to keep food safe to eat, prepare meals, keep kids busy and happy, and to stay centered. It was like forced camping–without S’mores.

Meals were cooked on the grill (yay!). Side dishes were from bags and served at room temperature (ugh!). It was late into the first night that hubby got the Y2K generator up and running. Huge win! It was enough to keep the food from melting and to run fans to move hot air around the house. I was ever so delighted to see line trucks from DTE (Detroit) show up in our area. They were on loan from that state up north (Mi©hi&an is not spoken here). With over 25% of the residences and business in the area with no power, it has been a stress-filled few days. The power restorations are continuing through this coming weekend, all while the daily high hovers in the mid to upper 90s.

I was planning on posting my gazpacho recipe later in the summer, like in August, when it gets really HOT. But since I had some yellow tomatoes ripe on the vine, I decided this heat wave was the perfect time to share with you a cool soup that is both refreshing and delicious.

Gazpacho is a Spanish creation that is a tomato-based soup, served chilled, with many finely chopped vegetables to add color, crunch and flavor. In my version, I opt for Spicy V8 juice; it adds just a subtle heat to the flavor. Regular V8 or straight tomato juice can be substituted. I also add cilantro and a splash of olive oil before serving. On occasion, I add additional toppings like goat cheese or croutons.

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Summer Gazpacho with Goat Cheese Crumbles

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I hope you enjoy making and eating this Summer Gazpacho….and that it provides you a cool meal during our HOT summer.

Summer Gazpacho

Serves 6…or 4 HUNGRY Adults!

2 pounds of vine ripened tomatoes (red or yellow)

2 medium cucumbers

1 medium red onion

2 medium bell peppers (green, red or yellow)

46 oz. bottle of spicy tomato-based vegetable juice (Spicy V8)

2 cups fat free beef broth

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1TBSP Garlic Powder

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Olive oil (optional)

Handful of fresh cilantro (optional)

Peel tomatoes by scoring an “X” on the bottom of each and submerse in boiling water for several seconds. Carefully remove tomatoes from boiling water and remove peels. Slice tomatoes in half and scoop out seeds. Chop in to small pieces and set aside. Discard peels and seeds

Peel and scoop seeds from both cucumbers. Chop finely and set aside. Discard peels and seeds.

Chop the red onion finely and set aside.

Seed the bell peppers and chop finely. Discard seeds.

Finely chop the fresh vegetables into tiny pieces. A penny is shown for scale.

In a large bowl or gallon sized pitcher, add the vegetable juice, beef broth, balsamic vinegar and half of the chopped vegetables. Add garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir well to blend.

Place the remaining chopped vegetables in an airtight container.

Chill the vegetable juice/broth blend and the reserved chopped vegetables for several hours or overnight.

To serve, ladle the chilled vegetable juice/broth blend into bowl and top with ½ cup of reserved finely chopped vegetables. Garnish with cilantro and a splash of olive oil, if desired.

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Topped with cilantro and a dash of olive oil

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