I love vine-ripe summer tomatoes and chilled gazpacho is a good way to use some of these tomatoes. This soup recipe brings out the best flavor of the tomatoes and also the other vegetables in the soup — cucumbers, jalapeno, red peppers, garlic and red onions. Serve with a panini sandwich on a hot summer day for a satisfying lunch. I think that the best gazpacho is one which is bursting in fresh vegetable flavors, but not with any lingering “raw” ingredient taste. This recipe, from Louisiana Cookin’ magazine, manages to accomplish that idea.
I guess that I was spoiled when growing up. My parents grew a huge garden and we ate ripe tomatoes daily. My mother was raised in the depression-era on an Iowa farm where nothing went to waste. Extra tomatoes were made into catsup, tomato sauce and homemade soups which we enjoyed all year long. She continued that practice in her own home and we ate primarily garden-raised vegetables and tomatoes. What a difference there is between home grown and store purchased summer vegetables, especially tomatoes.
I will always cherish those visits back home bringing along the next generation of grandkids. There was lots to do outside, no need for television or video games. Well, that way of rural farm life is quickly disappearing. Just glad my children had a chance to enjoy it along with the memories.
When I saw Creole tomatoes at a farmer’s market, I jumped at the chance to purchase them and remembered the recipe that I had seen in the Louisiana Cookin’ magazine. I made the “Creole Tomato Gazpacho” recipe as written and it turned out just great.
What is “Gazpacho”
“Gazpacho” is a soup of raw, chopped or blended vegetables which is served chilled. It seems to have originated in the southern part of Spain and is served especially in the summertime. Originally the soup included stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar. Now the soup also includes tomatoes and other chopped vegetables such as onions, cucumbers, and green peppers, thickened with bread crumbs.
Out of the many recipes available for gazpacho, this recipe for “Creole Tomato Gazpacho” appeals to me for several reasons. It includes plenty of vegetables such as red onions, jalapeno peppers, cucumbers, garlic and red bell pepper which add to the flavor of the soup. The jalapeno peppers give just a little “bite.” Most of the vegetables are roasted in the oven which cooks them slightly and downplays the “raw” flavor. The recipe also includes either chicken or vegetable broth. Rather than a vegetable “puree,” this recipe tastes like a “soup” to me. Bread crumbs are included in the soup which serve as a thickener as well as croutons for serving.
About Creole Tomatoes
Creole tomatoes are unique to Louisiana. They were originally developed in 1969 by the LSU Agricultural Service as a tomato that was resistant to the Fusarium wilt. These tomatoes were ones which would grow in the rich, sandy and silty soils deposited by the Mississippi River in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes (counties) which are south of New Orleans. They are prized by New Orleans chefs for their distinct flavor which comes from this soil. The tomatoes are an indeterminant variety (as opposed to a bush-type) and are known for ripening on the vine so they can’t be transported for long distances. And unfortunately, LSU did not maintain or keep careful control over the seed stock. Over the years, the term “Creole” tomato has come to refer to any vine-ripened tomato grown in Southern Louisiana — most likely a Celebrity tomato. For this soup, any vine-ripe or heirloom tomato should work. If you want to use a true Creole tomato, then come visit us here in Louisiana.
Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine
I enjoy browsing through food magazines, especially ones which feature Louisiana cuisine, to see the creative photos and recipes that other folks are writing about. Some of these recipes start as an inspiration for ideas which I may adapt. The “Creole Tomato Gazpacho” recipe seemed “spot on” as written. The Louisiana Cookin’ magazine’s editor, Caitlin Watzke, has graciously given me permission to reproduce the recipe in this blog post. Here is a link to the magazine’s internet WEB site. https://www.louisianacookin.com/
In addition to lots of great recipes, this magazine features articles, stories, reviews and photography about rising and popular Louisiana chefs, their restaurants, culture and travel. New Orleans is full of wonderful cuisine — I’ve often thought that you could eat at a different restaurant every day for a year and never repeat one. This magazine gives tempting ideas for where to eat when you visit the city — or really anywhere in Louisiana. In addition to their website, you can follow Louisiana Cookin’ on these social media accounts:
Making the Recipe
The process for making the soup is simple enough. Roast the tomatoes slightly to easily remove the skin. Roast most of the vegetables (don’t roast the cucumber). Then puree everything and chill the soup. The recipe gives instructions for making your own croutons and bread crumbs. And don’t skip the croutons, the crunchy flavor goes well with the soup. (Okay, I cheated and used purchased croutons.) But if you make your own sourdough bread cubes — awesome.
This recipe makes a large batch of soup! Enough to last for several meals. We will be enjoying chilled gazpacho all week. Thanks for Louisiana Cookin’ magazine for giving permission to use the recipe. Hope you like it, too!
I’ll keep looking for vine-ripe tomatoes at farmer’s markets. And I’ll keep planting tomatoes in my own backyard garden. Don’t know that I will ever match the huge ones that my parent’s grew, but I’ll keep trying. My attempts at growing my own tomatoes is rather rocky. I cherish every success — especially my small golden tomatoes. Thank goodness for local farmer’s markets!
Creole tomato Gazpacho
- 2 cups 1-inch-cubed sourdough bread
- 2-1/2 pounds Creole tomatoes
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 medium red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
- 2 medium jalapenos, halved and seeded
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded (about 1 cup)
- 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Garnish: olive oil, fresh basil, ground black pepper
Instructions and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, place bread cubes.
- Bake until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring halfway through baking. Leave oven on.
- Cut 1/4-inch from stem end of tomatoes. Place tomatoes, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake until skin begins to peel, about 15 minutes. Let cool enough to handle, remove skin, and place tomatoes in a medium glass bowl. Leave oven on.
- On same pan, gently toss together onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, oil, salt and black pepper to coat.
- Bake until bell pepper and jalapeno are lightly charred, 15 to 18 minutes.
- In the container of a blender, place tomatoes; process until smooth. Add roasted vegetables and pan drippings, cucumber, and vinegar; process until smooth. Add 1-1/2 cups bread cubes, and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and stir in broth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours Serve cold with remaining bread cubes, and garnish with oil, basil, basil, and black pepper, if desired.
Used with Permission: https://www.louisianacookin.com/ “Creole Tomato Gazpacho,” Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine, May/June 2021, page 23.
This is my kind of summer dish!
Yes, I love ripe tomatoes! Enjoy!
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