Gazpacho is one of my favorite summer soups. Several years ago, I had a bowl at the wonderful restaurant where my brother-in-law works. It was hands down the best gazpacho I’ve ever had, and while I’m unlikely to duplicate their recipe, I’ve tried to incorporate some of the flavors in my own recipe.

The primary difference is the use of watermelon juice to balance the acidity of the tomatoes in the broth. And the restaurant also had a wonderful presentation — offering the diner a bowl with the finely diced vegetables and then adding the broth table side. While I can’t always follow the presentation, I do keep the broth separate from the vegetables until serving. This helps to keep the veggies crisp and fresh, which is such an advantage!

Here’s my recipe:

2 cups tomato juice
2 cups watermelon juice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 T Happy Hal’s Jalapeno Relish
1 medium sweet onion (candy, Texas sweet or Vidalia)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium sweet onion (candy, Texas sweet or Vidalia)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
Celtic sea salt, to taste

Fresh-juiced tomato and watermelon is best. Whole watermelons will liquefy in most blenders if you don’t have a juicer available. Bottled tomato juice is your best substitute.

Mix together the juices, garlic, Happy Hal’s, onion, vinegar, oil and sea salt in the blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl. If you like a less chunky soup, run ingredients through blender or food processor until just slightly chunky.

Recommend making both parts of this recipe ahead at least four hours to let flavors combine. Vegetables can be stored separate from broth so that they stay crisper.

Optional garnishes: finely diced fresh avocado; small spoonful of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

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