Creamy gazpacho for hot weather dining

Chicago summer is finally feeling like itself: 90s-plus temps broken only by thunderstorms, with the muggy index in the 100%+ zone. The hint of climate change? The heat breaks down to the 60s and 70s at night, as if we were in a more desert environment, and weather patterns linger for weeks longer than the traditional 15 minutes. When I was a kid, we had T-storms way oftener, beginning in early Spring, and they blew through in an hour. These linger for days. We’re having one right now. My cats are nervous. What’s going on at your house?

This savory cold soup goes down well as a first course for hot weather, or with a simple summer meal of cheese, bread, fruit, and wine. It’s also vegetarian, if you use water instead of chicken stock to thin it.

I always use Spanish olive oil because it tastes more like olives. The particular type of olive that makes it taste so strong is Manzanilla, from Sevilla, Spain. Way more flavorful than Italian olive oil.

Creamy Gazpacho
serves four to six people

Prepare ahead:

3 medium seedless cucumbers, peeled & chopped
2 ribs organic celery, chopped
1 very ripe avocado
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 pickled round red Italian peppers, such as you get at an olive bar, for a hint of spiciness

3 T olive oil
1 t salt
juice of 1 lime
1/4 c water or rich chicken stock

At serving:

4 to 8 oz greek yogurt
2 c parsley
some fresh basil to taste
garnish: yogurt, slivered sun-dried tomatoes, paper-thin carrot coins

Combine the top group of ingredients, blend to your liking, and refrigerate. Some people like to see bits of color in their gazpacho, and some like a uniformly smooth soup.

Before serving, put 1 cup of the soup into blender with the yogurt, parsley, and basil. Whiz until extra smooth. Add to the rest of the soup and mix well.This soup has some body to it, because of the yogurt and avocado, so servings should be in the 8-oz range.

Garnish with dollops of the remaining yogurt, topped with shreds of sun-dried oil-preserved tomatoes and paper-thin slices of carrot.

Somewhere else I have a recipe for gazpacho that is chunkier, more like a pico de gallo, with more spicy stuff in it, whole chunked up tomatoes, cilantro, stuff like that. I’ll post that too. This is tamer.

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Almost every book I write is set in nice weather. Like Wodehouse, I keep my universe in eternal Summer, so that people can frolic in the back yard. Of course he wrote almost no sex. I want my characters always to feel comfortable when taking off their clothes.

There are two picnics, a Lake Geneva barbecue, and a beery midnight smelt fishing session at Lake Michigan in Fools Paradise, the second novel of my Backstage Boys. Stagehands and the great outdoors go together rather more often than they would like. You may enjoy Lollapaloosa, or watching Pearl Jam at Soldier Field or Northerly Island, but the boys have to be there for days, before, during, and after, suffering way too many hours broiling in the sun, running sound and lights in the rain, and wading through mud, spilled beer, and hundreds of thousands of shirtless hooligans. You wouldn’t think they’d be fond of outdoor meals on their days off. But they are.

Sample Fools Paradise, which opens with the disastrous smelt fishing session, at Book View Café. And yeah, later on there’s sex, but for once it’s indoors.

By the way, Book View Café is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious author-owned publishing collective in the world. 90% of the income goes to the authors. Books are DRM-free. Check out our list of award-winning authors or get our newsletter here.

About Jennifer Stevenson

Jennifer Stevenson’s Trash Sex Magic was shortlisted for the Locus First Fantasy Novel Award and longlisted for the Nebula two years running. Try her fantasy series Hinky Chicago, which is up to five novels, her paranormal romances Slacker Demons, which are about retired deities who find work as incubi, or her women’s fiction fantasy series Coed Demon Sluts, about women solving life’s ordinary problems by becoming succubi. She has published more than 20 short stories.

Find Jennifer at the Book View Cafe blog, at the second row at fast roller derby bouts in Chicago, or on Facebook.