Sweet, spicy, surprising: Strawberry Gazpacho

by Terry B on May 12, 2010

Strawberries, cucumber, cayenne pepper, chives and hot sauce blend into a sweet, tangy, spicy take on classic gazpacho in this quick no-cook first course. Recipe below.

strawberry-gazpacho2

It’s always nice to start a dinner party with an impressive little surprise, especially if it’s simple and can be made ahead of time. Marion takes over the kitchen this week with a lively Strawberry Gazpacho that delivers on all counts.

As you know if you read last week’s post, beautiful fragrant strawberries are starting to appear in the stores, and we are thinking about them a lot. This recipe came together in our heads from a lot of places. The first chives appearing in the backyard; a wonderful, mysteriously flavored gazpacho we had a while back at La Boca, the tapas restaurant in Santa Fe; a dessert soup of strawberries my sister and I once had at Le Petit Lutécia in Paris; and memories of little kid Julys picking wild strawberries in northern Michigan. Of course as kids, we did much more eating than actually picking these tiny, intense strawberry bits.

Although there are many variations on the classic gazpacho recipe, most involve tomatoes and spicy heat and are served chilled. This version swaps strawberries for tomatoes, but sticks with the hot/cold theme.

This recipe depends on high-quality berries that are very fresh, very aromatic and very sweet. If your fruit is pale and bland, the soup will be too. But once you find the right berries, this recipe comes together in just a few minutes. The cucumber, plus the spice of the cayenne and the tang of the hot sauce, turns this from a dessert dish into a tangy, crunchy first course: springtime, with a little bite.

You can fix strawberry gazpacho quickly in the food processor a couple of hours before dinner, or just ahead of lunch. Serve it the same day you make it, to keep it fresh.

Strawberry Gazpacho
Serves 4 (or 8+ as a tapa or as an appetizer course)

12 ounces of cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, then coarsely chopped
3 cups strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 scallion, the root end and any dry tips cut off, then coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon hot sauce (see Kitchen Notes)
1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
chive stalks, cut into three- or four-inch pieces

Once everything has been prepped, put it all in the food processor except the chive stalks. Pulse, making sure not to overprocess—you want a rather coarse texture. Taste to make sure it has the level of spicy heat  you like. Once it’s where you want it to be, pour into a bowl and refrigerate until it’s time to serve. Put your serving dishes (small bowls or glasses) into the fridge too.

To serve four, ladle the soup into small, chilled bowls. To serve as part of a tapas meal or as party food, spoon neatly into small glasses—the photo shows this served in a triple shot glass. Cordial glasses or small martini glasses would work too. Garnish by standing one or two chive stalks in the soup (they will start to droop—don’t worry, it’s what they do).

Kitchen Notes

Cold stuff. Keep all the produce in the fridge until you’re ready to prepare it, then work pretty quickly so it stays chilly. Stand the chive stalks with their cut ends in a little glass of water to keep them crisp and straight.

Hot stuff. If you really don’t like spicy food, omit the cayenne and hot sauce entirely (and, in the latter case, add a little more lime juice). But I hope you will try at least a trace of it. The bit of spice and acid really transforms this.

Hotter stuff. In the vast and crazy world of hot sauces, for this dish we prefer sauces that enhance rather than blast, such as the classic Mexican brand Cholula. If your sauce includes such terms as “death” or “XXXXX,” or is named after a demon or a mental illness, it’s probably not the one for this soup.

More stuff. For classic tomato-based gazpacho, try Marion’s recipe here. For other cold soups, try Terry’s Watercress Vichyssoise or Marion’s Sweet Potato Vichyssoise.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler May 12, 2010 at 4:18 am

Wonderful! Ive been looking for a more … savory…use for my enormous amount of fresh strawberries.

StumbleUpon delivers once more – this is a great blog you have here!.

The French May 12, 2010 at 7:03 am

I didn’t think it was possible to be hungry again after what I ate tonight, but apparently there’s no ceiling on my appetite. This sounds refreshing and delicious and just quirky enough that I must try it. Kudos:)

Jessica @ How Sweet May 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

Brilliant! I love fruit soups and also love gazpacho. Sounds delicious.

Marisa May 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm

This sounds super refreshing!

Haley J. May 12, 2010 at 5:31 pm

What a jewel of a soup! I can’t think of a more clever way to use the beautiful fresh strawberries I am seeing in the markets right now. I’m looking forward to serving this after I pick up some more.

Cynthia Fox-Giddens May 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Yummy and recipe has all the ingredients I love. This is worth a try and totally refreshing!

Laura [What I Like] May 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm

How wonderful and avant garde! I just saw strawberries at the Greenmarket for the first time today so this is incredibly appropriate. Can’t wait for the rain to stop so I can make this on a hot sunny day.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) May 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I’ve been playing with a strawberry gazpacho too, but you beat me to it! Great minds….

Rocquie May 13, 2010 at 2:37 am

I don’t think I would have ever thought of using strawberries in gazpacho, but I love the idea. I can just imagine how delicious this soup is and I will be trying it out for myself.

Terry B May 13, 2010 at 4:23 am

Thanks, Tyler! I hope you’ll be back.

The French—From your appreciative comments here, I think your appetite is quite a healthy one.

Jessica—And Marion’s soup here is a great combination of both.

Thanks, Marisa!

Haley, we love dishes that mix sweet and savory tastes like this.

Cynthia—We’re already thinking of other cold soups we can make the spring/summer.

Laura—’Avant garde.’ I like that. Marion’s choice of the shot glasses certainly made for a fun presentation.

I know what you mean, Lydia. If I had a nickel for every time I thought of a recipe, then saw it on someone else’s blog…

Rocquie—I hope you like it!

Donald May 13, 2010 at 1:04 pm

very nice Terry! i have a dinner party coming up in a month and this is now on the menu as a app. truly clever.

Cara May 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I love the sweet and spicy combo, and this sounds like a perfect addition for a summer tapas party. Beautiful too!

altadenahiker May 14, 2010 at 3:53 am

I see only two glasses; guess Marion drank hers already and mine is on the left. Oh yes, I try this!

Terry B May 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Have fun at your party, Donald—I think Marion’s strawberry gazpacho will be a nice addition to your menu.

Thanks, Cara! I’ve been a late convert to the idea of small plates, but dishes like this are winning me over.

Altadenahiker, I can tell that if we ever find ourselves in the same zip code at the same time, the three of us are going to eat like pigs, drink like fish and laugh like hyenas. Until whatever restaurant throws us out.

altadenahiker May 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Let’s make sure we do that sometime.

Indianapolis Amy May 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I just purchased a bunch of Indiana strawberries…If I don’t eat them all:) I am definitely making this gazpacho recipe and adding lots of heat. Gorgeous photo!

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