Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cup of cold soup is perfect for hot days

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Courtesy of Good Food⁄Good Health
To your taste: Ten-Minute Gazpacho has as many different versions as there are cooks and even eaters.
Just because its hot outside doesn’t mean you can’t serve soup. Gazpacho, a classic Spanish cold soup, makes a delicious summer lunch or light supper. Served in small cups, it also can be a light first course to a summer dinner.

Many nutrition experts advise choosing deep colored vegetables and fruits. Colors such as dark green, yellow, orange and red often indicate the presence of phytochemicals that help fight cancer. Eating a rainbow of colors, like those in this recipe, is a good way to bolster your health defenses.

Only one ingredient in this soup is essential; choose a low-sodium tomato juice as a base. Aside from that stipulation, this recipe can be made to fit your own likes and dislikes. If you’re fond of cucumbers, up the cucumbers. If raw onions don’t agree with you, eliminate them. If your garden is producing mounds of zucchini, dice some and add it. Taste the soup as you proceed to be sure you are achieving a mix that tastes right to you.

Don’t limit your bell peppers to green; use seeded finely diced red, orange and yellow peppers as well for a more colorful effect with additional crunch and a hint of sweetness. It’s fun to serve some of the ingredients as toppings guests can add as desired. Place small bowls with little serving spoons on the table for chopped hardboiled egg whites, scallions, even olives. This soup has as many different versions as there are cooks and even eaters.

If Gazpacho is the main meal, accompany it with a fresh green salad that has chickpeas to give more bulk, or a healthy slice of multigrain toast spread with tapenade or low-fat cream cheese and chives.

Let your imagination and taste buds guide your hand, or if you prefer, use the recipe exactly as written. At 70 calories per serving, you can afford to have seconds.

Ten-Minute Gazpacho

2 cups reduced-sodium tomato juice

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs

1⁄2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1⁄4 cup seeded and diced cucumber

1⁄4 cup seeded and finely diced green bell pepper

1 plum tomato, seeded and finely diced

1⁄4 cup red onion, finely diced

1⁄4 cup zucchini, finely diced (optional)

1 hard boiled egg white, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, coat tomato halves, red pepper, onion and garlic clove with oil. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet with tomatoes cut-side up. Lightly sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Roast vegetables 15 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a cutting board to cool. Roast the remaining vegetables 15 minutes longer, until tender but still firm. Set aside, leaving the oven on.

In a blender, purée tomato juice, garlic and olive oil. Add breadcrumbs and vinegar, and blend to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a covered container and chill well, from two hours to overnight.

When ready to serve, adjust seasonings, if necessary. Divide soup among four serving bowls. Add 1 tablespoon each of diced cucumber, pepper, tomato and onion, plus zucchini and egg white if desired. (Or add diced vegetables to juice mixture before serving.)

Makes four servings.

Per serving: 70 calories, 3 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 10 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. protein, 1 g. dietary fiber, 97 mg. sodium.

Good Food⁄Good Health is provided courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research.