Gazpacho with Herbed Goat Cheese Toasts wildly adapted from David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen

I love a cold soup. Mostly because I love soup, since it is reminiscent of my beloved sauces. I like how a bit of effort pays off in a pot of something delicious that can be extended for a few days, and is usually even better on the last day than the first. I love the hearty warmth of chowder in the winter and the light freshness of a clear broth in summer. And a cold soup in summer is like eating dessert for dinner.

You know, I haven't declared Soup Week in a while. Uh-oh. The husband had best be on high alert. Oh, and if you're interested in Jacques Pepin's version, please see here.

We did not grow up on gazpacho (mostly because it did not come in a box, and my feminist, Midwestern mother was going to spend as little time in the kitchen as necessary, thank you very much). But I don't remember when this divine summer soup came into my life, and I am pleased that it did. 

Mostly because I love tomatoes. So much that, should I ever find myself with the option of one crop on a deserted island, I would choose tomatoes. Sure, there may be more nutritionally complete crops, but I stand by my selection. But I digress.

I am always looking for new recipes, because I like to try out other people's palates, but I find that I almost always end up reverting to my own.

I cracked open David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen  (a lovely cookbook if ever there was one), and I had the best intentions as I began procuring tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers. However, as I was chopping, I tweaked this. And then when it came to add garlic, I tweaked that. As I started listing all of the changes I made to this delightful Gazpacho, you might say that I have no business linking it to the master chef here.  And perhaps I do not. 

But admittedly, his recipe inspired me to make my own quite delicious chilled tomato soup, so I should certainly give him all the props he deserves. Plus, he serves his with cheese. And second to tomatoes, I love cheese.

So here are the changes, in case you want to make David Lebovitz's gazpacho.
  • I added an additional ½ red bell pepper to the tomatoes early on in the blender and pureed it up.
  • I removed all traces of garlic from the soup. But I did use 1 clove on the toasts.
  • I substituted ½ a shallot for 1 red onion.
  • I added ½ tablespoon vinegar (he called for 1½ and I used 2 tablespoons. I like vinegar as much as I don't like garlic).
  • I removed the tablespoon of vodka, not because I am a teetotaler, but because we were out.
  • He peels and seeds the tomatoes. I don't have time for that.
  • I substituted farmers cheese for the goat cheese. Definitely serve with toasts smothered in herb cheese, no matter your cheese choice, on the side.
  • Not a change, but a revelation: Smoked paprika is transcendent in Gazpacho. Don't tweak this.
And below, you will find what I actually made. And not even for Soup Week.


Gazpacho with Herbed Goat Cheese Toasts

Adapted from David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen 

Serves 4

1 slice firm, white country-style bread, crusts removed
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut in half
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut in half
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
½ shallot, peeled and finely diced
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp piment d'Espelette or smoked paprika or chile powder
freshly ground black pepper
16 baguette slices, about ⅓-inch thick
olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 cups fresh goat cheese, ricotta, or farmers cheese
1 Tbsp chopped herbs (basil, mint, chervil, chives, or dill or a mixture of herbs)

1. To Make the Gazpacho: In a small bowl, soak the bread in cold water for 1 minute, drain, and press some of the water out of the bread. 

2..  Working in batches, pulse the tomatoes and one of the red pepper halves in the bowl of a good processor or blender with the bread, until they're almost liquefied, but still have a few chunky bits barely visible.

3. Finely dice the other half of the red pepper. Mix the pureed tomatoes, bread and pepper in a large bowl with the cucumber, shallot, remaining pepper. Stir int he olive oil, vinegar, salt, and piment d'Espelette. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add additional salt if necessary. Chill thoroughly.

4.  To Make the Toasts: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush the tops lightly with olive oi. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until the toasts are light brown. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough, rub generously with the cut side of the garlic clove.

5.  With a fork, mix the cheese in a small bowl with the herbs, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and some salt until it is smooth. Smear a tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto each toast.

6.  Divide the soup among six chilled bowls and serve the toasts alongside.


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