By Elena Johnson
The infamous summer heat and humidity of the Mid-Atlantic region has finally taken hold. This time of year, I avoid turning on the oven and stove – even firing up the grill would be a sweltering task. Instead, I like to prepare cool salads, sandwiches, and chilled soups like my Spicy Gazpacho. No heating is required to make this delicious and totally vegetarian meal. Plus, you can prepare it ahead and then serve it straight out of the fridge for an extra cool entrée.
1 large cucumber, seeded
1 small red onion, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and cut in half – use more or less depending on spice preference
2 ¼ lbs. tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
1 cup vegetable broth or tomato juice, optional
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
¼ cup cilantro
1 ripe avocado, cubed
½ cup croutons, preferably homemade
Prepare garnishes by finely dicing ½ cup each of the cucumber and the red onion. Set each garnish aside in small bowls. Chop remaining cucumber and onion into large chunks and place in a food processor. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper, and tomatoes. Blend until vegetables are pureed. If thinner consistency is desired, add vegetable broth or tomato juice and blend again. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Blend until fully incorporate. Adjust seasoning. Add cilantro and pulse a few times to coarsely chop and incorporate.
After spooning the soup into individual bowls, top each serving with a few croutons and a few tablespoons of cucumber, red onion, and avocado.
About the Author
Elena Johnson is a second-generation Filipino American living in Baltimore, MD. As a vegan chef and caterer she has been reinventing her family’s recipes and sharing these vegetarian versions of Filipino comfort food with friends, relatives, and those unfamiliar with the flavors of the Philippines. Elena is also the Special Projects Manager at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal advocacy organization focusing on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promoting vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world for all. Elena combines her passion for vegetarian food with a love of teaching by offering cooking demonstrations to the public. To learn more about why she went veg, visit TryVeg.com. Questions/feedback: email firstname.lastname@example.org.