We always loved making Spanish gazpacho in the summertime, when garden tomatoes are at their peak, but the soup never tasted the same when made with less-than-perfect tomatoes. While sitting around in Alicia’s kitchen one day, we decided to see what would happen if we put a Tex-Mex spin on the soup, using canned chili-style tomatoes and adding black beans for heft. The result was a wonderful, economical, meatless soup that got raves all around.
Several national brands make diced tomatoes seasoned with cumin, chili powder, and other chili-friendly spices. If you can’t find any, just substitute plain diced tomatoes and add roughly ½ teaspoon each of ground cumin and chili powder. Then taste the soup and add more of the seasoning, in ¼-teaspoon increments, if you like it spicy.
Yield: Serves 4 generously
1 medium-size cucumber (for about ¾ cup pieces)
1 large green bell pepper (for about 1½ cups chopped)
1 small onion (for about ½ cup chopped)
1 can (14½ ounces) chili-style diced tomatoes or diced tomatoes seasoned with jalapeños
1 quart low-sodium tomato-vegetable juice, such as V8
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, or 1 cup homemade, defrosted if frozen
1. Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out with a small spoon and discard the seeds. Cut the cucumber into bite-size pieces and put them in a 3-quart or larger bowl.
2. Stem, seed, and cut the bell pepper into bite-size pieces. Add the pieces to the bowl. Peel and finely chop the onion and add it to the bowl.
3. Add the tomatoes and their juice, and the tomato-vegetable juice. Rinse and drain the black beans and add them to the bowl. Add the garlic to the bowl. Stir in the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled through, then serve.