Habanero Gazpacho for Yom Kippur

Jews around the world will celebrate Yom Kippur this week, and as such, will be serving whitefish salad, cold cuts and premade casseroles galore. See, when you can’t eat or cook all day, you need something that can be made ahead of time, can be heated up quickly or eaten cold and can serve a large amount of people. Because when those people can eat…they will be need to eat IMMEDIATELY!

You need Gazpacho
This is adapted heavily from Serious Eats’ gazpacho recipe – I made a bigger batch, added some vegetables and altered the spice quotient to make it JUST this side of painful. The result is a cool, savory soup that is both beautiful and delicious. Thicker than some gazpachos, this is for those of you who would almost rather chew your soup than just be able to slurp it. Bonus – you can finally use u the last of the gorgeous Summer produce that you have in your fridge.  
3.5 Lbs or 6 Large, ripe tomatoes, peeled
1.5 Cups olive oil
1/2 Loaf country, Italian or French bread
2 Bell peppers, any color
4 Cucumbers
1 Habanero pepper
2 Sweet onions
2 tsp. Kosher Salt, plus more to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 Tbls. Sherry Vinegar
2 Cloves garlic
Handful of chopped parsley, to garnish

 1)Skin your cucumbers, taking care not to take your skin off with the cucumber peels.

 2)Cut the heads and ends off the cucumbers,

 and slice the cucumbers down the middle, lengthwise.

 3)Scoop out the seeds with a spoon (the seeds will just make your soup watery and diluted),

 and cut your cukes into half moons. Place them in a large bowl.

 4)Cut your onions into large pieces – maybe 1/8ths – and place them in the bowl

 5)Slice the stem ends off your peeled tomatoes,

 core them

 and cut them into quarters. Place them in the large bowl with the other veggies.

 6)Add the bell peppers

 and habaneros to the bowl. Slice the habaneros into quarters or sixths, making sure to include the seeds in the bowl if you want it hotter, and keeping the seeds out of the bowl if you don’t want it as spicy.

 7)Add the garlic cloves, roughly chopped.

 8)Sprinkle the 2 Tbls. salt over the vegetables…

 making sure to mix them into the veggies thoroughly. Let the bowl sit for 30 minutes. The point is to extract all the excess water from the veggies, making the vegetable’s flavor concentrate.

 9)After the veggies have rested, remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon (retaining the juice in the bowl),

 place them on a tinfoiled baking sheet in as much of a single layer as possible (some overlap is okay),

 and put the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes. The point here is to break down the vegetables’ cell structure by freezing them. You want the cell structure to break down so they release the flavor. One way to do this is by cooking vegetables, another…by freezing them. I had my doubts, but this step is absolutely vital. Don’t skip it. When they are done freezing, let them rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes, or until they no longer feel frozen stiff.

 10)While the veggies come to room temperature put the bread into the bowl with the vegetables’ run-off juice. In about 20 minutes…

 the bread will have absorbed all of the juice and flavor.

 11)fill your blender up about halfway with half and half vegetables and soaked bread (it took me 2 batches to use up all my ingredients).

 12)As you start to blend the soup, pour in the olive oil. You may need to jimmy the bottom of the blender at first to get the moisture down to the bottom. Don’t be shy with the olive oil – if you need more, you need more.

 You know you are on the right track when you start ot see the bottom of the soup liquefying.

 13)When the soup is mostly liquefied, but not all the way, add the sherry vinegar and blend until the mixture is uniformly smooth. There will still be texture to it, and that is what you want. You just don’t want huge pieces of unblended vegetables in there.

14)Let the soup rest for at least an hour, then taste for salt and pepper, garnish with parsley and serve.

This soup is so vibrant and robust that it practically smacks you in the face. Each vegetable’s flavor is pronounced and clear, yet none overshadows the other. The acidic tomatoes, mild cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, and pungent garlic and onions all melded together into an incredibly savory, earthy soup. The sherry vinegar adds tang and the olive oil gives a rich, but not heavy mouthfeel. The habanero adds quite a punch, but not so much that it is lip-burning hot..just enough so that you might want to add a cool dollop of sour cream to the bowl. The bread makes the soup thick and filling, and though it is vegetarian, it is shockingly satisfying and umami-filled.
Now the hardest thing will be waiting until sundown to eat it!


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