The Joy of Gazpacho

Today’s Soup & Stories entry comes from fellow CatholicMom.com contributor Kelly Wahlquist. When I think of Kelly, I see her smile, hear her laugh, and am warmed by her joy. Her very presence radiates the joy of the Gospel. I’ll never forget the time when several of us CatholicMom.com contributors gathered to take a group photo at a Catholic Marketing Network conference. We had to wait for Kelly because she was busy sharing the Gospel with a non-believer with whom she had casually struck up a conversation. That’s just how she rolls. She’s also a dynamic speaker with a special affinity for speaking at Catholic women’s conferences. Learn more at kellywahlquist.com.

I am thrilled Kelly joins us and shares a recipe for gazpacho, a soup I have never tried until today. It’s a winner, and I’m looking forward to sipping on this one tonight. Kelly, take it away …

KellyWahlquistJPII

Photo credit: KellyWahlquist.com

Barefoot Confession up front. I am neither Italian nor a countess, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking I can cook like the Barefoot Contessa. (At least I got the barefoot part down. Well, in the summer anyway!)

I really do love to cook. In fact, it is one of the ways I relax after a long day of working in the vineyard of the Lord. There’s something I just love about creating a dish that will bring a smile to the faces, and tummies, of my family. And truth be told, for me, there is something extremely peaceful about cooking with wine. (Couldn’t pass up a vino comment after talking about working in the vineyard! For, as Hilaire Belloc says, “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!”)

This past winter has been a tough one, even for us hardy Minnesotans. So, after weeks of freezing and trying to warm myself by eating stew, and chili, and yummy comforting pot roasts and soups, I decided to stick it to winter. Two can play this game old man! You want to throw ice and ridiculous sub-zero temps at me to make me cower? Well, you’ve met your match! Albeit, I may be a wee bit cold of a match, but I will fight fire with fire … or… um, in this case, I will fight freezing with …

Cold Soup.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho, a tomato-based vegetable soup traditionally served cold

While stew, chili, and pot roast are nice warming provisions for the moment, gazpacho eternally conjures up memories of lazy hot summer nights. And the way I see it, for Lent this is a win-win.

First, when eating this chilled soup we instantly look forward to those days of warmer weather — ah, we have hope — we can feel spring around the corner and we know the summer sun will soon shine upon us. So in my little analogy here, gazpacho is like a little fore-taste of the light and joy of the Resurrection during a cold dark winter. (Bet you never looked at this ancient Spanish, chilled, tomato-based soup as a symbol of the Resurrection before?)

During Lent our attention is on repenting of our sins and rekindling with Christ so we can rejoice in the Resurrection! Thus, as we go through Lent aware of our mortality, we do so with our eyes and hearts set on our eternal life. As you eat your gazpacho this Lenten season, may it conjure up memories of the springtime — the new life — that awaits us, both in our lives on earth and in the Resurrection.

And here’s the second “win” in the win-win scenario. It’s meatless! Add a nice rosemary olive oil bread and a parmesan arugula salad and you got a Friday night meal!

Barefoot Contessa Gazpacho (download printable copy here)

Serves 8-10

2 hothouse cucumbers, halved and seeded, but not peeled
3 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
8 plum tomatoes
2 red onions
6 garlic cloves
46 OUNCES tomato juice (6 cups)
1/2 CUP white wine vinegar
1/2 CUP good olive oil
1 TABLESPOON kosher salt
1 1/2 TEASPOONS freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and res onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not over process!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer the gazpacho sits, the more flavors it develops.

Serve chilled. And don’t be afraid to do so in sub-zero temps!

Read more Soup & Stories entries here.

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