Driving home from "town" in the 85 degree heat (which feels like 105 if you are a mountain dweller), I had a sudden urge to make this soup.
My craving for icy-cold gazpacho was immediate and visceral. Gazpacho... made from the first good tomatoes, and maybe some herbs from my garden. That's what I needed to make.
Then I remembered a recipe for a unique gazpacho, emailed to me by a friend many, many moons ago. I had wanted to make it right away, but I didn't. Instead, I filed it away in the part of my brain that stores Recipes From Friends and promptly forgot about it. Until today. (Believe me, this part of your brain anatomy does exist).
A Wildflower Quiz for you: 1. We'll start with an easy one.
If you are like me, friends email you recipes, lots and lots of recipes, either by request or out of the blue. As you tackle your Inbox, you will skim through the recipe, decide to save or delete, and mentally remind yourself to thank the person next time you see her.
Here's a closer-upper view. Photo by Susan Lykes.
Then days, weeks, months, maybe years later, you remember the recipe, and hopefully who sent it, so that you can search your Inbox with a few key words. And if you haven't been too diligent in deleting emails, your recipe will still be there.
2. Sometimes pink, sometimes purple.
Which is how I recovered Janna's recipe for Strawberry and Fennel Gazpacho...I merely had to type in Janna and Gazpacho, and was instantly rewarded by the original email with recipe from August 2010. Apparently, a large part of my brain is reserved for this purpose.
3. Another easy one. What's the yellow flower in the foreground? Bonus points if you can name the trail.
4. Name that flower.
Janna doesn't share that many recipes, as far as I know, and she has excellent taste and has travelled the world, so I had a hunch that this would be good. And it was good. Extremely good. The perfect gazpacho for right about...now.
5. Name this stunning purplish/pinkish wildflower.
6. It is very important to have your socks match the flowers, but what are they? Another great photo by Susan Lykes.
If you live on either side of the Tetons, you will of course know who I am talking about. Janna is the organizer of the WHALES, the Women's Hiking And Literary Epicurean Society. I am only an occasional WHALE participant, but I always read Janna's weekly emails nose to tail to see what's going on in Teton Valley, Idaho, epicurean and otherwise.
7. These are all over my yard. Think "Hester Prynne".
My wildflower quiz is thus dedicated to the wonderful WHALES, who like all of us, must relearn the wildflowers anew every July. Apparently that part of our brain is not as big as the one that stores Recipes From Friends.
8. Hint: Fox on socks....
9. Here's a tricky one...think....what does wine come from?
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Strawberry and Fennel Gazpacho
This recipe is from Janna Rankin, by way of The New Spanish Table, by Anya von Bremzen. As you will see, the amounts are not an exact science. The ingredients aren't even an exact science. If you use good fresh tomatoes and strawberries, you won't go wrong.
I know the recipe calls for a green pepper, but I didn't have one, so I substituted a cucumber and 2 red jalapenos (deseeded). My version was slightly spicy, just what I was craving.
Also, for once in my life I did not have any stale bread on hand. So I tore up a nice fresh loaf of ciabbata (no crust) and toasted it in a 350 degree oven until dry and slightly browned. Works like a charm.
- 1 cup cubed day-old country bread, crusts removed
- 2 pounds ripe, flavorful tomatoes, seeded
- 2 pounds strawberries, hulled
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced (or substitute 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced, plus 2 red jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
- 1/4 of a medium sized fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- kosher or sea salt, to taste
Nick and Reed are enjoying their "strawberry soup", hee hee. I failed to mention all the nutritious veggies they are ingesting.
- Set aside 2 Tbsp. diced strawberries, 2 Tbsp. diced tomatoes, and 2 Tbsp fennel fronds for garnish. (As you can see, I forgot to do this).
- Soak dried bread with enough water to cover, for 15 minutes. Squeeze out the water, and place the bread in a large bowl.
- Place strawberries, tomatoes, bread, bell pepper (or cucumber/jalapeno), and fennel in a large bowl. Toss and let sit for about 15 minutes. (Note from Janna: she never takes time to do this. She is not the sitting type).
- Puree ingredients in a food processor in 2-3 batches, adding olive oil through the feeding tube as you go.
- Mix pureed ingredients with water, garlic, and the rest of the olive oil. The soup should have the consistency of a smoothie. Taste, and add salt. Keep adding salt until it tastes right to you.
- Chill in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. It will also be perfect if left to chill overnight.
- Serve garnished with reserved chopped strawberries, tomatoes and fennel fronds. Drizzle with olive oil. A diced avocado also makes a nice garnish.
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Wildflower Quiz Answers: The first person to correctly identify all the wildflowers in the comment section or on Facebook will receive....well... a special foodie gift from me. If you live near me, it could be a fresh jug of gazpacho, a batch of brownies, or some fresh pasta. If you live elsewhere (within the U.S. please) it will be a less perishable foodie item. Good luck!