I have to admit that I never use a recipe for this soup its all about taste and balance, simple and quality ingredients need little or no intervention by me… the tomatoes and the oil and vinegar emulsifying to produce something quite spectacular perfect for a warm summers day.
I believe the soup should be made using icy water and best served very cold.
The tomatoes should be local or how about growing your own my kids have loved seeing their tomato plants grow and enjoyed recreating this classic soup at home. This is of course an insight into how ketchup is made after all!
For our West Country Summer Soup (a none to distant relative of that well known but sadly somewhat inferior Spanish classic gazpacho)
For 10 healthy portions ( its keeps really well – remember to cling film to avoid the heady garlic aroma filling your fridge for weeks to come…)
FOR THE WEST COUNTRY SUMMER SOUP
3lb of very ripe tomatoes – it may seem obvious but inferior quality under ripe cheap supermarket tomatoes will produce a significantly inferior product and I would avoid them like the plague.
7oz cucumber approx 1/2.
7oz red pepper approx 1 small
100ml of sherry vinegar (jerez)
700ml of ice water
1 or 2 cloves of garlic depending on your personal taste
2 tbsp of chive flowers (steeped in sherry vinegar for 1-2 weeks)
salt and pepper
200ml of extra virgin olive oil
Place everything (except the chive flowers) into a blender taking extra care not to overfill or you will be wearing it. Blend on a high speed until very smooth. Pop in the chive flowers, blend for another minute and pass through a fine sieve – making sure to extract as much of the liquid as possible..
Yep – that easy…….
Transfer to the fridge to cool…
To serve the chilled soup, pour into bowls and garnish with a some sliced/diced/chopped/wedged tomatoes – go for as many different types as you can get – there are plenty red, yellow, cherry, green, striped, plum, big, small, round, squashed, flat to name but a few.
Scatter a few freshly blanched and podded peas broad beans and asparagus.
For a touch of real class finish with some basil leaves, nasturtium flowers and pea shoots.
A great accompaniment would be this classic pesto recipe which i have adapted to include some of Jan Billington’s stunning nasturtiums – giving it a powerful peppery kick be sure to make plenty it keeps really well in the fridge and works great on pasta…..
2 garlic cloves, peeled
100g of basil leaves void of stalks
60g nasturtium flowers or leaves
350ml of olive oil
120g of pine nuts, lightly toasted
120g of Parmesan Reggiano finely grated
For the pesto, add the herbs, garlic, olive oil freshly grated parmesan and pine nuts to a blender or food processor and blitz until a coarse paste is achieved. Transfer to a bowl, adjust the seasoning.
Personally I quite like it not too smooth still retaining a lot of its original character .