I’ve been looking forward to the first batch of local tomatoes for months, and my patience was finally rewarded last week. I was expecting any tomatoes in my CSA veggie box until after the first of July, so it was a wonderful surprise to find out that they had ripened early.  I signed up for a “Never Too Many Tomatoes” add-on, so I get an additional 3-pounds of tomatoes a week for 10 weeks.

One of my favorite summer treats is gazpacho – I love the crisp vegetables, and rich tomato broth. I usually make it a little spicy, and then give it a smoky flavor with smoked Spanish paprika.  For this batch, I mixed up a cilantro-yogurt sauce to go with it.  The tart flavor from plain yogurt and lime juice paired nicely with the soup.

This recipe is best made ahead of time – you should let it sit for at least a few hours so that  the flavors can meld. It’s even better the next day. While it’s probably best eaten within a day or two of making it, it will keep for several days in the fridge (at least as long as you use very fresh vegetables). The following recipe makes a huge batch – at least 3 quarts. I like the leftovers, and usually give some away, but the recipe can easily be cut down for a smaller portion.

In a large bowl combine:

  • 1 pound tomatoes, diced (about 3 cups) – include all of the juice, seeds, etc. from the tomatoes.
  • 2 bell peppers (I used one red and one yellow – I prefer not to use green bell peppers in the gazpacho)
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded, diced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced thin and roughly chopped (about 1 cup) – you can use sweet onions, scallions, or other onions.
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced or roughly chopped (depending on your preference)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar

Allow this mixture to sit for about 30 minutes so that the salt and vinegar bring out some of the juices in the cucumbers.  Then add:

  • 1 jalepeno, minced (remove seeds and ribs if you prefer less heat)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • zest (green part only) and juice from 2 limes (this yielded about 2 teaspoons of zest and about 1/3 cup of juice)
  • 5 cups tomato juice or V-8 (I usually use tomato juice, but either is okay)
  • 2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika (this is not the same as sweet Hungarian paprika; you can use either one but I prefer the smokey flavor that comes from the Spanish paprika)

Stir together, cover, and refrigerate for at least several hours before serving. When serving garnish with any of the following:

  • a spoonful of cilantro yogurt sauce (recipe below)
  • diced avocado
  • feta cheese (I like the saltiness of the cheese with the soup)
  • steamed shrimp
  • fresh basil, chopped
Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
Blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender:
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (firmly packed)
  • juice from 1 lime (about 3 Tbsp.)

Refrigerate until ready to use.

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