Soup with the Simons: Gazpacho

By | July 6, 2012

This recipe and story appear in the July 2, 2012 edition of “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my biweekly cooking column in Binah magazine. On newsstands now!

It took years of trial and error before my parents came to the conclusion that there was really only one way to break a fast: with fruit. A piece of fruit, or two, or a bowl of fruit salad. The details weren’t important, as long as you followed the basic rules of starting with fruit and waiting a full 60 minutes before moving on to other foods.

You can imagine how my siblings and I complained about this. To us, it was yet another thing my family did differently than everyone else — and besides, who wanted fruit when there were things like pasta in the house?

But it was precisely the pasta that my parents wanted us to avoid. They told us about their years of breaking fasts on giant plates of baked ziti, often with veggie meat thrown in for good measure. Sure, they lived to tell the tale, but they always told us that breaking the fast like that just made them feel sick.

It’s too much for the body, they’d explain. Start with something that’s easy to digest, and then — if you need it — have the pasta later.

And that’s what we did. Toward the end of a fast day, my father could be found at the kitchen counter, chopping apples and pears, peeling kiwis, slicing bananas and melons. By the time we had all trooped down for the fruit fest, there would be a long line of bowls waiting for us, each containing another kind of fruit.

This was more enjoyable for some of us than for others. I was (and still am) picky with fruit, and the only thing I agreed to eat were the apples. Fortunately, honey and cinnamon were also permitted in the immediate post-fast period. So that’s what I ate, every time — apples with a hefty drizzle of honey and cinnamon.

I knew that my friends were breaking their fasts on bagels, lox, and cream cheese or on pizza fresh from the oven. Not in our house. At some point, I think I just accepted it…especially because my friends admitted to feeling sick after breaking their fasts, while I always felt fine.

It’s one thing to break your fast on fruit in the comfort of your own home, where your parents and siblings are doing the same thing. It’s quite another to do that in camp.

I spent half of the summer I was 14 at Camp Anna Heller. It was my first (and only) experience at sleepaway camp, and it really was as good as everyone says it is.

One of my less-than-fond memories, though, is of motsei Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, when I was assigned toranut duty for the break-fast meal. Eleven years have passed since that night, but I distinctly recall sitting in the dining room in my white plastic server’s apron, desperately trying to slice an apple with a plastic camp knife. I think I managed to eat about half of it before the rest of the camp rushed into the dining hall. And naturally, by the time my shift was over, there were only bits and pieces of food left for the taking.

Although I appreciate the wisdom of my parents’ break-fast policy, I do things a little differently today.

The irony is that my husband would be perfectly happy to start with a fruit salad. I’m the one who wants to switch it up. My favorite way to break a fast is with soup — steaming bowls in the cold weather, and frosty cold bowls when it’s hot outside. If I was more flexible with fruit, this would naturally mean lots of chilled fruit soups. But because I haven’t improved much since my apples-only days, it’s simply got to be classic gazpacho.

This cold tomato-based soup is light and refreshing, but packed with enough flavor to revive your family after a long summertime fast. Because it needs at least several hours of refrigeration before serving, you won’t have to be in the kitchen while you’re running out of steam.

A bowl of gazpacho is like a bowl of a really great salad — only even better, because a quality tomato juice imparts a full-bodied flavor in every spoonful. And don’t skip that sour cream garnish. It balances the acidity of the tomato juice perfectly. Serve gazpacho with toast (or even by itself) for an easy-on-the-stomach meal.

And later, if you really have to, bring out the ziti.


1 Comment

Prag on July 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm.

Definitely on my list to try out, looks refreshing and appetizing.

Reply

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