Getting enough vegetables into our family's daily diet can be a challenge, even for ardent veggie lovers. It can seem like an impossible task to fill those slightly less enthusiastic eaters at the dinner table. That's why I'm always on the lookout for inventive ways to incorporate vegetables into a meal. One of my favorites is to pack them into a soup.
For some reason, kids seem to be more willing to give vegetables a try when the produce is swimming in a bowl, alongside other food favorites. And while summertime may not feel like the best time to make soup, it's the perfect time if that soup is chilled gazpacho. I know, tomatoes aren't technically or botanically considered a vegetable (nor are squash, eggplant or green beans, for that matter), but since most cooks use them in savory dishes, I'm going to throw them into that category. Either way, they're good and good for you, and are partnered with lots of other delicious vegetables in this Spanish culinary classic.
I think chilled soups are often misunderstood. With names like gazpacho and vichyssoise, they tend to sound complicated and too fancy to serve for anything but a special occasion. Truth is, chilled soups are often a snap to make and completely refreshing on a hot summer day. The trick is remembering to make them early enough, or the night before, to let them chill. Of course, this make-ahead requirement also makes them the ideal dish for entertaining, as there's no last-minute work.
Just be sure to taste these soups after they're cold. The flavor might have become more muted in the chilling process and a bit of re-seasoning may be necessary. Before reaching for the salt shaker, though, try adding a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice. A little acid often boosts the flavor enough so that more salt isn't necessary.
Gazpacho is a dish that lends itself to a variety of garnishes. In this recipe, I'm using shrimp and avocado, but I love crab just as much. If I want to make it completely vegetarian, I simply leave out the seafood altogether, or substitute croutons for the relish.
The next time you grow weary of figuring out how to make the daily required amount of fruits and veggies more palatable to your family, just turn on the blender and tell the kids to enjoy slurping their veggies.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of "Everyday to Entertaining" and "The Big Book of Appetizers." Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.