There are many intensely flavored gems to be found in Kevin Gillespie’s first cookbook, Fire in My Belly (Andrews McMeel, Oct.). But he will also occasionally cool things down with offerings such as this one. The creamy texture did not have me thinking gazpacho; it put me more in a savory cucumber-flavored almond milk state of mind. Nonetheless, with its pleasing shade of green and light citric touches, it is a seriously refreshing starter when served ice cold. Pulverize-and-strain beats peel-and-seed any day, so this recipe gets point for its speed and simplicity as well as for its list of healthy ingredients. Also, the fun of drizzling olive oil into a full, whirring blender should not be discounted. The diced peach needs to be diced quite small indeed, lest the pieces plop to the bottom as mine did on first attempt. Better yet, serve the soup up as a shooter, in a tall shot glass, with a wedge of peach as its finish.
Cucumber and Almond Gazpacho from Fire in My Belly
Makes 4 bowls or 12 shooters
Cucumber: 2, cut into chunks, about 4 cups
Water: 2 cups
Marcona almonds: 3/4 cup
Garlic: 1 marble-size clove, peeled
Citrus vinegar: 1 tablespoon
Salt: 1 1/2 teaspoons
Olive oil, 2/3, cup
Lemon olive oil: 2 tablespoons + more for drizzling
Peach: 1 ripe Hacky Sack-size peach, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Espelette pepper: a pinch
1. Blend the cucumbers (peel, seeds, and all), water, almonds, garlic, vinegar, and salt in a heavy-duty blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. A high-speed blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec will produce a much creamier consistency. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the oils, Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, forcing the mixture through with a ladle. Discard the solids. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
2.Just before serving, reblend the soup, then taste and adjust the seasoning: It takes a while for the flavors to develop and for the salt to fully dissolve. You may or may not need to add more salt, as the almonds usually come pretty heavily salted. You'll just have to taste and decide. Serve chilled and garnished with a little spoonful of diced peaches, a pinch of Espelette pepper, and a drizzle of the lemon olive oil.