What could be better on a hot, steamy August day than a refreshingly cold bowl of veggies?

By which I mean, of course, gazpacho!

Cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, sweet peppers, and basil; all tossed together and puréed just enough, then chilled in glass to make for a satisfyingly thick bowl of goodness that will make your day.

Garlic croutons or bread would’ve be nice…

but my friends I was lunching with can’t really do bread, so I abstained in solidarity with them.

I based this recipe on the barefoot contessa’s gazpacho, making a few changes to suit my tastes – such as adding fresh basil, using quite a lot of roasted garlic, and going with champagne vinegar instead of plain old white wine vinegar.

My lunch buddies were in agreement that a shot o’ nice vodka would not be a bad thing here, either.

•4 Persian or mini cucumbers
•Fresh basil leaves (about 10)
•4 plum tomatoes
•10 cloves roasted garlic
•1 sweet red pepper
•1 sweet orange pepper
•1 red onion
23 oz lower sodium veggie juice
•1/4 cup champagne vinegar*
•1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
•1-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper

*No champagne vinegar? No problem! Use any good white wine vinegar instead.

Making this soup could not be easier, and, even better on a hot summer’s day – there is no cooking involved!

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds (a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon works a treat for this).

Coarsely chop the cucumbers, then pulse in a food processor until thick and pulpy.

Or, as I did, use your immersion blender to make a kind of cucumber paste, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Seed the peppers and cut into smallish chunks, then either process or use the immersion blender and transfer to the mixing bowl.

Slice the ends off the tomatoes, cut into chunks, and process or blend along with the garlic and torn basil leaves before transferring to the mixing bowl.

Coarsely dice the onion, process or blend, then add to all the other veggies in the mixing bowl.

Our soup is almost done…

You now have a bowl of raw veggie paste; let us turn it into something wonderful.

Add the olive or avocado oil, the champagne vinegar, and the two cans of lower sodium veggie juice to the bowl, and stir, using the immersion blender.

Give it a taste.

Lovely, yes?

But, we will need a bit of seasoning, so, stir in the Kosher salt, black pepper, and the Aleppo pepper.

Note: no Aleppo pepper? No problem! Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes instead.

Transfer your gazpacho to glass jars (I think glass chills stuff better than plastic) and stash in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

I got about two quarts of primo cold soup.

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