“This would make a great salad.”

watermelon gazpacho
Watermelon, almonds, oil and vinegar would make a lovely salad in addition to this watermelon gazpacho.

I’m pureeing watermelon, almonds, red wine vinegar and olive oil in my blender for a watermelon gazpacho. That’s when it hits me …

What is gazpacho other than liquified salad?

party soup2
Imagine the spinach, walnuts and sherry vinegar of Yotam Ottolenghi’s green gazpacho in a main-dish salad.

Think about it. My favorite tomato gazpacho is really a pulverized Mediterranean salad.

The lovely green gazpacho in Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” (spinach, cucumber, walnuts, sherry wine vinegar) would be a kicky spinach salad if not pureed.

The realization opens up myriad possibilities. Why can’t I turn any salad into gazpacho?

Like the melon salad I love — cantaloupe, yellow peppers, red onion and cilantro. It would whir up golden and savory.

beets served1
Roasted golden beets and juicy oranges would whir into a sweet, earthy, tart concoction.

My summer staple of roasted beets and navel oranges would have a sweet, tart and earthy kick.

The roasted peppers and tomatoes I made last week would puree into a velvety smooth, slightly Mediterranean-flavored soup.

I’ll even bet my spinach, walnut and cherry salad with its yummy saba dressing could be transformed into something gazpacho-worthy, too.

To test my theory, I decide to make salad/gazpacho for dinner. I have a bed of chard that needs desperate attention, and it seems like the perfect base for what would have been a chard, apple and walnut salad.

The trick, I know, is getting a “soup” consistency rather than one more akin to baby food (or even a smoothie). Liquid additions (water or ice; vinegar and olive oil) will be key. So will ingredients that add body. I have the nuts, but I may need to add some plain yogurt, some sour cream or a couple of slices of bread.

After picking 7 cups of white chard (I told you the chard bed needed attention), I start to play. Into the blender goes water, olive oil and cider vinegar. A cup of grated apple. Some walnuts, chopped shallots and herbs. And finally, all of that chard:

chard in blender

I whir it, taste it, adjust the vinegar, salt and pepper. Then pour it into a pretty bowl and chill it for an hour or so.

The verdict?

It’s a yummy gazpacho … faintly sweet from the apples and chard; tart from the cider vinegar; velvety from the olive oil and walnuts. It’s a perfect match with the cumin- and cinnamon-spiked pork tenderloin we’re eating.

Best yet, I don’t have to make a salad. We already have one in our soup!

chard gazpacho1

Chard & Apple Gazpacho

Any variety of chard would work in this soup. I like the white variety because the flavor is more subtle than red chard’s beety taste.

  • 7 cups packed chard leaves, tough center stems removed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons packed parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

chard

Rinse the chard leaves, then spin them dry.

Place the water, oil, vinegar, apple, walnuts, shallots and herbs in a blender.

Add the salt and pepper, then layer in the chard. Puree until smooth. You may need to add the chard in stages, depending on the size of your blender.

Pour the soup into a serving dish and refrigerate for at least an hour, until very cold.

Serve with or without salad.

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