I’ve never had a stand of tomato plants like the one growing this summer in my backyard. Combined with burgeoning crops of cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, kale and dozens of species of flower, it makes stepping onto our deck seem more like a tropical adventure than anything I’ve experienced in my life.

We just started eating the tomatoes and should be sampling the first cucumbers and peppers in a week or so. That means I can start thinking about making a cold soup called gazpacho, which contains all three as well as onion, garlic, tomato juice and fresh chives. A bowl of the soup is a nice way to chill out on a hot summer day.

Here’s a new recipe for gazpacho that I’m going to try, which looks delicious, and should be perfect for the next hot spell.

1½ pounds tomatoes (about 4), peeled, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
1½ cups chopped cucumber (from about 4 whole)
1 cup diced onion (from about ½ whole)
½ cup diced green bell pepper (from about ¼ whole)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato juice, more to taste
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Tabasco or other hot sauce
1½ teaspoons lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon diced fresh chives
In a blender, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato juice and vinegar. Puree the mixture, then pour into a medium bowl.
Season with 1½ teaspoons of salt, or to taste (amount of salt can vary depending on the brand of tomato juice, if purchased), ½ teaspoon each of black pepper and cayenne pepper, and ¼ teaspoon each of the Tabasco, lemon juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings and flavoring as desired.
Cover and refrigerate the gazpacho until well-chilled. Stir in the chives, and thin if desired with additional tomato juice or water. Taste and adjust the seasonings once more. This makes a generous quart of gazpacho.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 125 calories, 2 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 6 grams sugar, 701 milligrams sodium.