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This gazpacho is made with tomatoes, bread, peppers, cucumbers and onion. (Forum News Service photo)

Gazpacho can showcase your garden's bounty

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Back in our former cruise ship lives, we were fortunate enough to visit Spain several times as we cruised the Iberian Peninsula. Every time we stopped in the Andalusian city of Seville, we'd have one of those amazing days during which we couldn't believe we were getting paid to be there.

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Our small ship would enter Seville from the North Atlantic via the Guadalquivir River in the early morning, right around sunrise. The cruise up river was almost as scenic as the port itself. The bird life was particularly impressive and, if we were lucky, some days we would see flocks of delicate pink flamingos along the river, their colorful bodies beautifully highlighted by the rising sun.

Seville is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city famous for its architecture, bullfighting, flamenco, and tapas (those small plate dishes which have recently become so popular here in America).

After seeing our passengers off on their various tours around Seville, Tony and I would rush ashore to enjoy as much food and culture as possible in our two to three hours of freedom. One day, when our time was very limited, we decided to stay close to the ship and stopped at a restaurant just off the pier to have some tapas. It was here that we experienced the best gazpacho we'd ever had.

Gazpacho, a tomato-based chilled soup traditionally served in the summer months for its seasonal ingredients and refreshing quality, is a great dish to showcase your garden's bounty. There is no cooking involved when making gazpacho, and the only equipment needed is a sharp knife and a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle if going old-school.

In Spain, there are nearly as many variations of gazpacho as there are churches, but we love the traditional Andalusian style, which blends the ingredients into an almost-smooth puree.

Tomatoes are the key ingredient in gazpacho, and you can use any kind of tomato as long as it is fresh and of good quality. The tomatoes in our garden are taking their sweet time to bear fruit this year, so in the meantime we've been enjoying a great variety of red and yellow tomatoes from the farmers market at the Dike East in Fargo.

Another key component of gazpacho is stale bread, which acts as a thickening agent in the soup. We usually use leftover dinner rolls from Sarello's, but any crusty white bread will suffice (baguettes or French bread work very well).

Once all of the ingredients are prepared, they just need to be blended together. For the sake of this article, Tony tested the recipe using a food processor, blender, and immersion blender, and found a food processor worked best to achieve his desired texture.

Once the soup has been blended, you will need to push it through a sieve or fine-mesh strainer to remove any excess skin or pulp left by the vegetables. Gazpacho is served cold and best when refrigerated for 24 hours before serving.

Until we can return to our beloved Sevilla, we will be content to enjoy our gazpacho on our patio with a glass of sangria, some marinated olives, and lively flamenco music playing in the background.

Gazpacho

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

6 large ripe tomatoes -- cored and roughly chopped

2 cucumbers -- peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

1 red pepper -- seeded and roughly chopped

½ large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

½ cup tomato paste

1\3 cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco

3-day-old rolls, cubed or broken into pieces (about 3 cups)

2 Tablespoon chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, combine all ingredients and puree with a food processor, blender or hand-held immersion blender. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer to remove the excess vegetable skin and pulp. This will ensure your gazpacho achieves the best consistency.

Refrigerate soup for at least 24 hours for best flavor. Serve very cold and garnish with chopped cucumber and extra virgin olive oil.

Other garnish ideas: Sliced avocado, diced red onion or diced yellow tomatoes for contrast.

To store, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.

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