Summer Afternoon {Green Garden Gazpacho}

GreenGazpacho

The first time I had "green garden gazpacho" was at Superba in Venice. Made of asparagus, peas, cucumber, yogurt, olive oil. How Chef Jason Neroni made this recipe exactly I could only guess by taste. The yogurt was spooned artfully into a wide bowl, a pillow on top of the verdant green purée, surrounded by a wreath of delicate edible flowers in white and yellow, a sprig of asparagus, with a voluptuous drizzle of olive oil dappled upon its velvety surface. The beauty of that soup captured me.

I went home with it on my mind, dreaming of the balance and texture, wanting to recreate that very soup. Even the name, Green Garden Gazpacho. Everything about it made me lust over its primavera suggestion. Gazpacho is a summertime soup, when it's too hot to cook or stir a pot. Cool and refreshing gazpacho.

While I cannot give you the recipe to the gazpacho that carried me away into a summer dream, I can give you my own experiments in the essence of summery green gazpacho, and you can take it wherever you'd like, adding more of what tastes good to you. Gazpacho isn't an exact science, but has many variations, so play with the ingredients until you find your own pleasurable bowl of green goodness.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup raw shelled pistachios, unsalted

  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves

  • 1/2 head Romaine lettuce

  • 1 bunch parsley, leaves

  • 1 small bunch asparagus

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 1 small jalapeño, more for extra zing

  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

  • 2 pounds sugar snap peas

  • 1-2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped

  • 2 cups tomatillos, peeled and chopped

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, more or less to taste

  • 1/3 cup olive oil, more or less to taste and garnish

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek (or vegan substitute) yogurt, for serving *tip: keep Greek yogurt in freezer, let thaw a bit before spooning into soup

  • 2 tablespoons crushed pistachios

Directions

Cover the pistachios with water and soak for a few hours to overnight to soften. Combine the half the bunch of asparagus, onion, and garlic in a pot. Cover with about 2 quarts of water, bring to a boil, simmer low for 15-20 minutes. Strain liquid into a pot.

Simmer the strained broth in a pot. Add the other half bunch of asparagus with the peas and simmer on medium low until bright green and barely cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes. Strain, save the liquid on the side, and cool in an ice bath to stop them from over-cooking. Purée the asparagus and pea mixture with the tomatillos, avocado, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, lettuce, jalapeño, pistachios and olive oil in a high speed blender, adding the cooled broth (and more olive oil if needed) to reach the desired consistency and taste. Season with lime juice, sea salt and pepper to taste. It may take some experimenting before you find the perfect flavor balance.

Pour the soup into a large pitcher and chill in the fridge.

To serve, spoon a dollop of yogurt into a bowl and pour in the chilled soup. Garnish with crushed pistachio dust, cilantro, parsley, thin cucumber slices, olive oil and jalapeño slivers. Even a shred of bright purple cabbage. If you can find edible flowers at your local farmers' market, they look beautiful with this summer soup.