Charred Cucumber Gazpacho
"Citrin intensifies the flavor of this gazpacho by charring half of the vegetables, lending them not only a smoky flavor but also a deliciously concentrated one. Smoked paprika further enhances the illusion of heat in this chilled soup."
5 or 6 tomatoes, cut in half
2 Persian cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sel gris or fleur de sel
½ red onion, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
5 or 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 8 pieces
1 Persian cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ red onion, peeled and
1 stale piece sourdough bread
¼ cup Banyuls vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 pinches of cayenne pepper
sel gris or fleur de sel
freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, diced
fleur del sel
cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 bunch basil, leaves picked and chopped fine
Best olive oil, for drizzling
To make the charred vegetables, prepare a charcoal grill. Bank about two-thirds of the charcoal to one side of the grill; this will allow for two cooking zones.
Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell pepper with the olive oil and salt. Place them on the hotter side of the grill and cook, turning every 5 minutes or so, until charred black on all sides. Place the red onion slices on the cooler side of the grill and cook about 10 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
Remove the charred vegetables from the grill and let cool to room temperature. Peel and seed the bell pepper and cut into large chunks. Leave the charred skin on the tomatoes and cucumbers. Cut the tomatoes into eighths. Coarsely chop all but a few spoonfuls of the charred cucumber and all of the onion. Finely dice the remaining charred cucumber to use as a garnish.
To finish the gazpacho, combine both the charred and uncooked vegetables, the bread, vinegar, garlic, paprika, and cayenne in a blender or food processor and pulse until nearly smooth but still a bit chunky.
Transfer to a bowl, season to taste with salt and ground pepper, and refrigerate until cold and for up to 12 hours.
Serve cold in chilled bowls. Garnish each serving with diced avocado and the reserved charred cucumber. Sprinkle with the fleur de sel, cracked pepper, chives, and basil. Drizzle with oil.
Cutting the vegetables before putting them into the blender or food processor may sound unnecessary but it allows you to pulse the soup to a textured purée and not end up with any stray large chunks.
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