Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gazpacho in Philadelphia

Smoked Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho:  Heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, red onions, scallions, garlic, salt, parsley – all smoked for 20 minutes or so.  Olive oil, sherry vinegar, tomato juice, jalapeno, touch of sugar.  Puree in blender.   Garnish:  dried sweet corn, avocado slices, thinly sliced radish, pea shoots.  Serve in cold bowl (cold drink, cold glass; cold soup, cold bowl…)

Tomato season has finally arrived in California but apparently it has been in full swing on the East Coast for some time now.   We had dinner in the lively and lovely Rittenhouse square area, home to some great restaurants, boutiques and the lovely historic square.  Our restaurant was the Alma de Cuba restaurant.   The food was superb:  Black bean soup (with rice croquettas and a drizzle of crema fresca on top served in an appealing oblong bowl), smoked heirloom tomato gazpacho, a remarkable creamy coconut quinoa main course with chayote squash and an unforgettable chocolate dessert crepe with streusel crumbles.

Most memorable was the gazpacho – it was excellent.  I love gazpacho, order it wherever I find it, and feel I am a bit of an aficionado on the subject of this fresh, light, tomato based soup.  I asked for the ingredients from our very competent and gracious server who proceeded to write them down for me but only after double-checking with the chef to make sure she had included everything in that evening’s soup.  She also told me about the video that was made featuring the chef preparing his signature gazpacho:  "Chef Alfonso's gazpacho".  The ingredients for the soup are “cold smoked”.  I really don’t know if I will take the time to cold smoke my ingredients.   It is probably best that one doesn’t perfectly replicate all the wonderful dishes at restaurants.  The memories of those meals are sometimes best left on their own.   But I will indeed make my version of this gazpacho with these ingredients and garnishes and most especially I will remember to chill the bowls…

I have many gazpacho recipes in my files but I’d like to share one that think is simple and excellent.  It happens to be from the South Beach Diet Cookbook – one of my all time favorite cookbooks. 

South Beach Diet Gazpacho:
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato or vegetable juice
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded, finely chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine everything in a glass or stainless steel bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Serve cold.  

Serves 5
117 calories per serving.


  1. Thanks for the recipes! We have been enjoying some good gazpacho in Park City this summer. Sandy

  2. This recipe looks wonderful! I am going to make it tonight, and maybe add a couple of cooked shrimp. Speaking of tomatoes, we just had the best Heirloom Tomato Salad ever at "Scratch" on Castro Street (new restaurant featuring American Cuisine -- the founder also has Reposado in Palo Alto and some others).

  3. "Great minds"... - I too love Scratch - fresh and innovative food. I haven't tried Reposado yet - thanks for the tip!

  4. The ceviche at Alma de Cuba is excellent--several different types. The pork entree and the scallops entree are terrific. The "cigar" award-winning dessert is as delicious as it is creative. Lively atmosphere and good cocktails, too--different versions of mojitos, even a couple of Pisco drinks. A "must" restaurant when in town.

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