gazpacho soupIndian Summer indeed! Global warming is alive and well when it’s pushing 100 degrees in San Francisco in September. Not wanting to make anything that involved getting near a stove, I called my friends J & J and asked if I could come over to their uber swanky and air conditioned kitchen and whip something up for us for dinner. When I woke up yesterday morning and it was 82 degrees, all I could think about was cold gazpacho soup with some thick crunchy crusty bread.

I asked J various questions. Do you have a Cuisinart? No. Do you have a blender? No. Do you have a stick blender? Yes. Is it charged? No. Ok, I’ll run to the store, I’ll bring my stick blender, and you chill the tomatoes. An hour or so of chopping later, accompanied by a glass of champagne, we dined on some darn good gazpacho soup, much to my amazement, relief and delight. I hadn’t made it in literally years, maybe a decade (?!?!), so I was quite nervous but thanks to some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and a lot of love, it was a hit. I showed some restraint in the chopped garlic area — vampires, be damned — but had I not, it would have overpowered, so go with 2 cloves, not the 4 that I originally intended. One jalepeno and we were sufficiently spicy.

J served the soup with a crisp rose, Domaine de Beaurenard, from the Cotes du Rhone and we toasted (our one minimal use of the oven) some thick country bread and rubbed it with a garlic clove and a roma tomato cut in half as they do in Spain. A little garnish of basil chiffonade and we were good to go…

gazpacho diced vegetables

Cold Gazpacho Soup

1 large can (20-something oz) whole peeled + 3 – 14 oz cans Progresso diced tomatoes + juice
2-3 heirloom tomatoes (diced, save juice and add to bowl)
1 basket small orange baby tomatoes (cut in half across the equator)
1/4 – 1/2 cup white wine or champagne vinegar (depending on consistency & taste)
1 red pepper (cut out ribs, seeds & dice)
1 yellow pepper (cut out ribs, seeds & dice)
1 jalepeno pepper (cut out ribs, seeds & dice)
1 avocado (half for the soup, half for the garnish)
2 large shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 english cucumber (cut off most of the green, leave a little for color, scoop out seeds, dice)
juice of 1 lime
sea salt, fresh ground pepper

1. Save a few tablespoons of the baby tomatoes, red pepper, yellow pepper, cucumber, celery, half the avocado, and 1/2 tbsp of diced jalepeno for the garnish.

2. Put everything but the avocado in a small bowl, add a swirl of olive oil, some sea salt, fresh ground pepper and stir. Add the avocado and stir gently. Set aside.

3. If using a stick blender, combine all the vegetables + lime juice in a large glass (or non-reactive) bowl along with half the vinegar and blend. I like mine a bit chunky, not super smooth, so I blended in pulses moving the stick blender along the outside of the bowl. If using a cuisinart, just pour it all in and pulse until you get the consistency you’d like. Add more liquid (vinegar, stock, water) if you want a thinner consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as you’d like.

4. Mine didn’t not come out a bright red as you might imagine because I added the avocado but I like the creamy consistency it gives the soup. I topped each bowl with a tbsp or two of the vegetable brunoise garnish, a few ribbons of basil, a drizzle of good olive oil and a few drops of really good balsamic vinegar.

Bon appetit and stay cool!

gazpacho wine

Cold Soup for a HOT HOT Day 14 September,2008Cucina Testa Rossa


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

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