With so many great farms in the bay area, summer is an incredible time for fresh produce. Toward the end of the season, is just when tomatoes are at their best. Gazpacho is one of Mat's favorite summer recipes because it reminds him of Spain, sitting at the family table and enjoying a refreshing sip of a cool summer soup. The Spaniards are actually credited for "discovering" tomatoes in Mexico and bringing them back to Europe. The rest is history.
Tomatoes are packed with nutrition as an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins C, K, B6, folic acid and fiber. This tasty fruit (both fresh and canned) is also packed with lycopene - a red carotene that has been shown to be protective against certain cancers as well as heart and eye disease.
This soup lends itself well to being made ahead of time. Step out of the box, have some fun with it and serve it in a cool glass or take it in a thermos on a picnic.
- 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
- 1 - 2" slice your favorite bread, torn into pieces
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced, ¼ cup reserved for garnish
- 1 red bell pepper, diced, ¼ cup reserved for garnish
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 green onions, sliced, 1 Tbl reserved for garnish
- 2 Tbl Spanish Sherry Vinegar
- 2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup cold water
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place all ingredients into the work bowl of a food processor or in a stainless steel bowl if using a hand blender. Blend until smooth. Strain the puree through fine mesh strainer. Add enough water to make consistency of choice, but make sure you don't dilute the flavor. Season with salt and pepper, then refrigerate to chill the soup. Before serving, garnish with reserved cucumber and red bell pepper.
Here is a tip for peeling tomatoes. Go get yourself a serrated vegetable peeler. They are great for peeling tough items such as tomatoes. From there, cut the peeled tomato in half around the middle and use your fingers to remove the seeds. Another tip, spend your time on dicing the portion of the vegetables for garnish, not on the portion of vegetables that go into the food processor!
For more information on The Warming Hut and Cafe Crissy + Golden Gate Parks Conservancy, visit www.parksconservancy.org
About Mat Schuster:
Mat Schuster is a Bay area chef, cooking teacher and Nutrition Educator. While finishing his undergrad degree at Emory University, Mat traveled abroad to Italy where he cultivated his love for cooking. Upon returning to the United States, Mat joined up at the California Culinary Academy's College of Food in San Diego and Bauman College in Berkeley where he attained his Nutrition Educator status. Mat has been a class manager and cooking instructor for Draeger's Culinary Center in the Bay area and Cooking Class Coordinator and Instructor for Whole Foods Market. Mat was the Chef and Manger for the Court Café at the San Francisco Bay Club and currently is the Chef and Manager for The Golden Gate Parks Conservancy's beloved cafes, The Warming Hut and Cafe Crissy. Mat continues to teach cooking classes for Parties that Cook, Whole Foods Market, Sur la Table, Ramekins and others.