To some of us, the make-your-own Bloody Mary bar is one of the best incentives you can use to get us over to your house for brunch. The idea takes the personal nature of a buffet and applies it to a cocktail.
The trick to a good Bloody Mary bar is not using the most expensive vodka you can buy (although good vodka never hurts); it's having the best options for garnishes. To me, pickles are essential, but I can live without celery. The addition of protein to my Bloody Mary, be it a freshly shucked oyster or a stick of beef jerky from the corner store, is always more than welcome.
This recipe takes the sound Bloody Mary concept and applies it to gazpacho. The base for this chilled soup is very simple, but the flare comes from the garnish that your guests can add to their own bowls. You may have an urge to serve a Bloody Mary beside this soup—resist it. Instead, follow the style of my Midwestern in-laws, and serve this Bloody Mary with a beer chaser.
- 3 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 cucumber, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 rib celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 slice white bread, crust removed, torn into pieces
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- Dash hot sauce
- Sliced green olives, to garnish
- Finely chopped dill or parsley, to garnish
- Grated fresh or prepared horseradish, to garnish
- Finely sliced chives, to garnish
- Vodka (optional)
Toss tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and celery with a good pinch of salt. Place in a strainer over a large bowl, then place torn bread beneath the strainer and let sit for 30 minutes.
Place half of vegetables and bread in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. With blender running, drizzle in half of olive oil in a thin, steady stream. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Repeat with remaining half of vegetables, bread, and olive oil.
Add vineger then season to taste with Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Divide soup between 4 bowls and arrange all the optional garnishes on a platter and serve along side to be added to the soup at the table. Some suggestions for more garnishes: pickles (cucumber is the classic, but green bean, asparagus and carrots are excellent as well), shucked oysters or clams, celery stems with leaves, and beefy jerky. Vodka optional.
Food processor, fine mesh strainer