When I met my husband-to-be, I was not an accomplished cook, but I wanted to be. I vaguely remember making a summertime pasta salad that my parents liked and I think he either ate it too or helped with making it. Memories fade.
When, 25 years ago, I first met his family (he is the youngest of 6 and has 72 cousins) I soon learned that cooking for a crowd was something that I would have to master. When 36 for Christmas is ‘immediate family only’, one adapts quickly.
Around this same time, my father was traveling a lot and my memory is even foggier here, but he spoke of a cold tomato soup he’d had somewhere. I know I tried other recipes first, but I found (and I do not know where, now) the following and there has been little variation in 25 years.
I make it at least 3 times a summer and sometimes, we just keep the bowl in the fridge and keep adding either more of the liquid ingredients or more of the veggies. My picky eater, Thing Two, is addicted to it and that makes me so happy because I can finally make something he loves when he only tolerates so much else (he also has tree nut allergies, so we are restrictive).
I’ve taken it to family potlucks and people overlook it. They shouldn’t it. It really is that good.
And, oh, did I mention that it is the single reason that Big Garden exists? I started the garden, in a much different form, in 1994 in order to grow tomatoes, green peppers and cucumbers – the three main ingredients. No looking back!
BTW, made my first batch today and can’t wait to have it for both lunch and dinner tomorrow.
12 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (nothing better than from the garden, but if not available, Romas work well)
3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped (I gave up growing cukes as they were ready before the tomatoes…)
3 green peppers, seeded and chopped (I also gave up growing green peppers in favor of other colors, but green is what you want in this soup. I think the crunch and tang are better than the sweetness of yellow, orange or red pepper, plus the color is nice against the tomatoes and juice)
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2-1/4 t Kosher salt
1-1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
1 bottle V8
3 cans consomme
3/4 c red wine vinegar
3/8 c EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil): Thanks, Rachael Ray, can’t even think about it without you in mind!
Sour cream, as serving
Mash garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle to make a paste and then combine with liquid ingredients in a BIG bowl. Add ground black pepper and set aside to ‘cook’.
Prepare veggies to preferred coarseness (we go on the large side of a dice since we often add more liquid and keep the batch going, adding more veggies as needed, but you can do as you wish and it still tastes amazing – summer in a bowl!) Add to bowl.
Refrigerate at least two hours, but overnight really lets the flavors come together (‘cook’).
Garnish as desired, we use sour cream, but croutons, cilantro, parsley could all work.