Summer heirloom tomato gazpacho with roasted padron pepper powder
Peak-season heirloom tomatoes, a substantial amount of good olive oil and a hint of spicy padron pepper powder make this simple summer gazpacho an absolute crowd pleaser. This chilled soup is bright, fresh and full of goodness that’s perfect for a summer lunch or light dinner served alongside a loaf of crusty bread.
Lulu and I are going home to Alabama next week. What that means is hot, sticky days spent by the pool and late-night simple summer feasts whipped up by dad every night. We might get a little bored with the slow days and lazy nights at some point, but bet your bottoms we will eat well, my friends. My dad has already sent me several texts asking what I want to eat for dinner while I'm there. The list is long, and I'll surely be sharing some of his recipes here. But the first thing that came to mind for this early July week is his gazpacho.
Gazpacho is one of a couple rotating summer soups that I keep some version of in my refrigerator throughout the summer months. It’s the perfect thing for when it’s too hot outside to eat anything, really, but lunch is a must and it needs to be refreshing. While my dad would argue that there's only one right way to make gazpacho, this chilled soup can be adapted to include a variety of vegetable and citrus combinations. It’s my favorite in mid-to-late summer when heirloom tomatoes are having their moment of glory in the sun.
Unlike the classic Spanish gazpacho I learned in culinary school, my version requires no bread. Instead, it relies heavily on extra virgin olive oil, which emulsifies with with tomato and cucumber juices, making the soup extra smooth and creamy.
To make it extra special, I also added a touch of padron pepper powder — a magical flavor dust given to me by the creative geniuses behind the Shed in Healdsburg. Made by dehydrating and grinding padron peppers, this powder is one of a series of flavor enhancers inspired by the Shed’s cafe kitchen. Other flavors include smoked onion powder (my personal favorite) shiitake mushroom powder and charred eggplant.
The Shed started rolling out this special pantry line of powders just this year. What makes them so magical is that by dehydrating ingredients and powdering them, the flavor gets concentrated, making them perfect for adding a ton of amazing taste without any real effort at all. I experimented with simply sprinkling them on roasted vegetables or adding them to yogurt for instant, intensely delicious dips.
Since I usually add a touch of red pepper flakes to my soups, I wanted to test the padron powder in its place to add the hint of spice I crave. I was pleasantly surprised when I taste the earthy, sweet and slightly smoky flavors that came along with it. You can find this magical flavor dust and several others here. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Gazpacho’s primary appeal is that all the ingredients are raw and (in theory) don’t require any cooking. However, the key to a great gazpacho unfortunately includes putting in a little extra effort into things like peeling the tomatoes and deseeding the cucumbers. This ensure that you don’t get chunky bites of papery skins or grainy seeds that make the texture of the soup less than desirable. To easily peel tomatoes, score the bottom with a little “X” and dunk them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds before submerging them in an ice bath. Also, feel free to add even more olive oil than what I listed in the recipe to make it even creamier. But be sure to balance it out with a touch more vinegar and salt so that the fat doesn’t blunt the flavor too much.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom, peeled and diced (see cooking notes above)
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons SHED padron pepper powder, plus more for garnish (optional)
Small bunch chives, minced
- Combine everything but the chives in a blender. Blend on high until super smooth.
- Transfer the soup to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Serve in bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of the padron pepper powder and a pinch of chives.