Seriously Simple: A sophisticated twist on a Spanish classic

ON IMG_1296a recent visit to the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, I discovered a refined twist on Spanish gazpacho. This adaptation of tomato gazpacho with vanilla cream is beautiful to look at and requires no cooking. Quick to prepare, this could be your go-to summer soup on hot, humid days. It has become mine. It’s great for both lunch and dinner as a dazzling starter.William Bradley, the executive chef from Addison, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, presents dishes that are flavorful yet simple in their presentation. If you are ever in California, you owe it to yourself to visit Addison. It will be a lifetime memory for you to experience Bradley’s play on ingredients, textures, colors and final presentation.

Bradley suggests that his gazpacho should only be made during the warm summer months to ensure that the tomatoes’ sweetness and acidity levels are at their peak. I have tried this recipe with both ripe heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes. The heirloom tomatoes win hands down. Mix the colors if you like.

You might be wondering why you add lemon-flavored Perrier to this soup. It is indeed a clever addition of light citrus effervescence.

Make sure to slowly blend in a good quality olive oil so that the soup will have a velvety, smooth texture. His other trick is garnishing with a vanilla cream. It is not only interesting but also happily surprising and totally delicious.

Tomato Gazpacho with Vanilla Cream

Serves 6

6 large red heirloom tomatoes, cored and chopped, about 3 1/2 pounds

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, chopped or 1/2 European cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoons creme fraiche

1 cup chilled lemon-flavored Perrier

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Vanilla Cream:

1/4 cup creme fraiche

1/2 teaspoon best quality vanilla extract

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, tomato paste, creme fraiche, Perrier and sugar in a blender. Blend on medium speed for two minutes. Continue to blend and slowly stream in olive oil until mixture is emulsified and smooth. Add sea salt to taste. Chill for an hour.

2. To make the cream, whisk together creme fraiche with vanilla.

3. To serve, ladle gazpacho into chilled soup bowls and garnish each with dollops of vanilla cream. Serve immediately.

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