When I made this Peach Gazpacho with Cucumber, I remembered when we were on a day tour to the world-famous Mount Fuji in Japan. Our guide brought us to Lake Ashi for a scenic ferry boat ride. Mayumi-san, our tour guide called out “Look at these peaches! They are so sweet,” she said as she pointed to the fruit stand near the boat dock. They were Japanese peaches of the “hanayome” variety with a beautiful reddish appearance on the outside, and white flesh inside. Peaches in Japan are called “momo“. On the outside, they looked very much like the American peaches we were familiar with and yes, they were utterly sublime.
I thought of those sweet moments while I stared at my fruit bowl here in my American kitchen today and reached for my sketch pad to paint the peaches. I had an avalanche of peaches from the market and I tried to do something with them before they got too ripe to eat so I baked a peach galette. But there were still a large amount of peaches left.I had large freestone peaches with bright red skin and a golden yellow flesh inside. It was a sizzling hot summer day and I did not feel like cooking or baking any more. But we still needed to eat. So a gazpacho came to mind.
Gazpacho is a chilled soup of Spanish origins. No cooking is involved. Just chopping and processing it, then chilling is all that’s needed. A New York Times article quotes food historian Raymond Sokolov who called gazpacho “one of the ancestral soups of the Western world”. The same article ponders on the origins from Spain and as far back as Rome. Culinary icon Paula Wolfert, author and expert of Mediterranean food said “gazpacho comes from the Arabic word for ‘soaked bread’.
I put a different spin on the gazpacho most folks are used to by using peaches and cucumbers, garnished with tomatoes and scallions. Most Filipinos are not used to chilled soup even if we come from a tropical country that has nearly 100 F temperatures year round. Our Philippine culture is accustomed to piping hot soup meals which we serve with boiled rice. So when I served this chilled peach gazpacho with a savory aroma and a rich, thick consistency at the table I was a bit apprehensive. To my surprise, my husband enjoyed it with gusto. I asked if he liked it. “It’s just peachy!” the hubby happily exclaimed as he slurped every drop.
Peach Gazpacho with Cucumber
- 6 whole (about 2.5 lbs) fresh ripe peaches peeled, pitted, sliced in quarters
- 1 whole large cucumber peeled, seeded, 1/2 cut into cubes, other 1/2 sliced in spears for garnish
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons for the soup plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon for sprinkling sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper powder
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup for soup water
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- 2 stalks scallions chopped, for garnish
- 1-2 whole organic tomatoes sliced in wedges, for garnish
- Combine in a food processor or blender: Peaches, half of cucumber, garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper, water. Pulse or blend for about 2 minutes till mixture is a coarse, thick consistency.
- Pour puree into a medium-sized bowl. Cover and keep in refrigerator for 2 hours or more. Chill the cold soup till ready to serve.
- To serve: Pour gazpacho into individual soup bowls or small mason jars (like in photos above). Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil and a pinch of salt on top. Garnish with parsley, tomato wedges, cucumber spears and scallions. Serve chilled as a meal starter.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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