When spring and summer bring warm days, I keep our meals light and garden-fresh with a minimum of cooking.
Cold soups, abundant salads, tapas and antipasti are elevated to dinner course level, providing simple and refreshing nourishment, while greedily taking advantage of the farmers market bounty.
The trick to eating this fresh is to provide enough substance to call these dishes a main course — and for this, I often turn to shrimp. Shrimp are versatile and packed with protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, adding the necessary nutritional oomph to top off a light meal. They require mere minutes to cook in a pan or on the grill, which is ideal for busy schedules and keeping the heat out of the kitchen. They can also be poached ahead of time and served chilled, such as in this gazpacho soup.
Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup of Spanish origin that is traditionally blended with an arm’s-length list of vegetables. Despite the abundance of produce, gazpacho is unfailingly filling and satisfying — even for meat eaters — and a perfect antidote to a warm day. This version takes inspiration from a shrimp cocktail, with the tomato juice base infused with cocktail sauce ingredients, such as horseradish, lemon and Worcestershire sauce. Freshly poached and chilled shrimp are draped over the rim of the glass to top this soup off and provide protein. You can serve this as a main course or divvy it up between small glasses for a light appetizer. I can’t think of a better way to slurp my vegetables, can you?
Shrimp Cocktail Gazpacho
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 4 cups tomato juice
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1 English cucumber with skin, seeded, diced
- 1 large celery stalk, diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons drained prepared horseradish, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley or cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 pound jumbo (16/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
1. Combine all of the soup ingredients except the parsley in a large bowl. Mix to blend and then taste for seasoning.
2. Cover the soup and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours to chill and allow the flavors to develop.
3. While the soup is chilling, poach the shrimp. Fill a large saucepan with water. Add the lemon, bay leaves and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the shrimp. Cover the pot and let stand until the shrimp turn pink and are opaque through the center, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Drain the shrimp and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Refrigerate until use.
5. Remove the gazpacho from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Stir in the parsley and taste again for seasoning. Ladle the soup into glasses or small bowls, and drape the shrimp over the edges. Garnish with a celery stalk if desired.
Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.