Beat the heat with the bounty of the season. That same sun that makes this dish sound so appealing is what ripens the tomatoes that serve as its base. The southern region of Spain is the birthplace of this refreshing summer favorite. The sweetness of plump, ripened tomatoes mingles with the fresh flavors of garden vegetables, cilantro, and a hint of balsamic vinegar. You can add 4 ounces cooked shrimp for some additional protein.
Makes 4 (11⁄2-cup) servings (11⁄2 quarts)
1 large red bell pepper
2 large tomatoes or 6 plum tomatoes (about 1 pound)
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
1⁄2 medium yellow onion
1 cup low-sodium tomato juice
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, without stems
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Roast the whole bell pepper under a broiler or over a gas flame, turning occasionally, until the skin blisters and chars all over. Place the bell pepper in a bowl, cover with a lid, and allow it to steam to loosen the skin, or place it in a paper bag until it is just cool enough to handle. Carefully peel away the skin and remove the seeds. Chop the pepper into medium-size chunks and set it aside.
Cut half of the tomatoes, half of the cucumber, and half of the onion into 1″ pieces and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add the roasted bell pepper and process to a puree. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Add the tomato juice, cilantro, and vinegar. Seed the remaining tomato. Chop the remaining tomato, cucumber, and onion into medium chunks and add to the soup.
Refrigerate until chilled. Add the lime juice before serving and season with salt and pepper. Serve well chilled. For a less chunky gazpacho, thin with additional tomato juice.
Per serving: 80 calories, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates (12 g sugars), 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 55 mg sodium
Adapted from The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jumpstart (Rodale)