Monday, July 25, 2011

Gazpacho-Salsa-Tortilla Soup

Last week, I decided to try making myself some gazpacho. I'd never had it before, but from the recipe I was looking at, I thought it would be amazing. Like eating a bowl of salsa. Sadly, I didn't like it very much at all. I did stray from the recipe a bit by 1) putting everything through the food processor in batches rather than chopping, 2) using an English cucumber without peeling it, 3) adding a jalapeno instead of hot sauce and 4) using a whole medium Vidalia onion instead of just half. (I don't use sweet onions very often and thought it would go bad if I didn't use the whole thing.)

Don't get me wrong, it tasted okay. I think that I just have a bit of a mental block when it comes to cold soup. In my experience, soup is always hot or room temperature, never cold. I tried eating it a couple times and just couldn't do it.I knew there had to be some way to salvage all these veggies that I used for the gazpacho, so I searched online. I decided to use half of it for salsa, not a big leap, and the rest for some sauce for meatballs.

For the salsa, I used a slotted spoon to scoop out 2 lbs of the veggies and used about 1/2 c of the juice. I put it all back in the blender with a little lime juice, 1/2 c cilantro and one chipotle chile. I buzzed it all up and it was great! Tasted pretty similar to one of my favorite restaurant salsas. It made 1 quart of delicious salsa.

For the sauce, I, again, buzzed it in the food processor until it was almost smooth. I browned a medium onion in a sauce pan, added 3 Tbsp garlic, 1 tsp oregano and 1 Tbsp tomato paste. Then I added the pureed gazpacho. I brought it all to a boil, reduced the heat to a simmer and let it cook down for about 30 minutes. I haven't used it yet, but when I do, I'll be adding 1/2 c Parmesan cheese and 1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh basil and cooking it down a bit more with beef and pork meatballs stuffed with a cube of mozzarella.

I was trying to figure out something easy for dinner tonight and I thought turning the salsa into some tortilla soup would be simple and fast. So guess what we had for dinner. I used the recipe for Cook's Illustrated's Tortilla Soup as a starting point. I didn't want to mess with raw chicken again, since I'd done that last night, so I bought and shredded a rotisserie chicken instead. (I love eating the crispy skin! It's not a good thing to do, but I'd rather eat the skin than the chicken.) I heated the oil in a dutch oven until it was hot and then added the salsa. I let it cook down until it was a deep brick red color and was thick. I added 1 Tbsp of tomato paste, 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper and 1 Tbsp oregano. I added 2 quarts of homemade chicken stock (from a previous rotisserie chicken), and brought it to a boil. I lowered the heat and let it simmer for a good 45 minutes, but according to CI's recipe, 15 minutes should do it. Just before serving, I added the shredded chicken to heat through. I served it with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and green onions. Some guacamole would have been great too, but there weren't any ripe ones at the store today. I also served some Sweets & Beets chips with it. The sweetness cut through the heat really nicely. It's sounds odd, but was really rather tasty. Of course if you eat tortilla chips, a handful, crushed up, would be more "traditional."

I'll let you all know how the meatball sauce turns out. The plan at present is to put it over zucchini that had been shaved with a vegetable peeler. We'll see.

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