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Japanese-inspired Golden tomato Gazpacho: Fast. Vegan. Refreshing.

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

It's 104 degrees here in Reno, Nevada today, and I'm not about to turn on a microwave, much less the stove. I'm not sure that I could deal with the toaster today. If it can't be eaten chilled or at room temperature, I'm not interested. Full stop.

These crazy temperatures (it's supposed to get up to 105 degrees over the weekend - Ugh!) demand chilled soups, and I've got a great repertoire of them from chilled coconut corn to cold pea (using frozen peas!) to variations on my honeyed carrot soup, and several chilled soups in between. I'll get 'em on this website - eventually.

Keeping one in the fridge at all times makes meal time decisions so much easier. Pair it with a salad (pasta or chopped vegetables, vegan 'chikin' salad, Jackfruit No-tuna Salad etc) or a simple vegan deli sandwich. I keep a couple packages of Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon or Tofurkey Hickory Smoked Deli Slices in the fridge all the time for the days I'm rushed, too hot, too tired. You get it?

There must be hundreds of versions of the classic chilled soup of Spain's Andalusia region - iterations that range across the Mediterranean and to the 'New World' ("add more avocado, please?"). Spanish cookbooks refer to the 'soup' as a salad, and that's fair since it's essentially uncooked vegetables. Did you know that the word 'gazpacho' is derived from the Arabic and means 'soaked bread'?

Gazpacho is elegant in its' relative simplicity. Tomatoes. Cucumber. Peppers. Onions. Garlic. Vinegar. Uncooked. So, when I got thinking about an Asian version - and specifically Japanese - I didn't have to think too hard. That's a good thing on a super hot day. I swapped out the garlic for some ginger. Used Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar instead of the Spanish Sherry vinegar. Went for milder shallots instead of yellow 'sweet' onions.

The rest of the seasoning merely consisted of a pleasing combination of Mirin, Liquid Shio Koji (my new obsession!) and a splash of Shoyu.

Here's the twist, however - yellow tomatoes. Yes, I could go 'red', but I just needed that vibrant sunny yellow. Plus, the yellow varieties are lusciously mild and sweeter than their red counterparts.

This is from my garden last year.

Whole Foods market offers Muir Glen canned yellow tomatoes every spring/summer. Not year round. When they have it, I stock up and buy at least a dozen cans for the pantry. Oddly, Muir Glen doesn't even list the product on their own website - so I have nothing to link to. But, I've noticed that Cento offers a canned yellow tomato online ( Failing finding them canned, practically ever produce section and farmers market these days has some version of an heirloom yellow tomato. Use fresh or canned.

Sheesh! They can't even manage to have a picture of the product on the Whole Foods Reno website? But, you can see that they actually do sell it.

But, back to making this fast, simple and utterly refreshing soup. It simply can't be any easier, and other than a knife to prep the vegetables, all you need is a blender.

As you can see, below, this isn't a 'fussy' way to make soup. Chunk up the vegetables and toss 'em into the blender carafe.

The seasonings for this soup are important - I don't recommend substitutions.

Liquid Shio Koji condiment is a powerful Umami booster and enhancer - and it lends that certain 'something' that really speaks to authentically Japanese flavor profiles. It's reasonably easy to buy these days - especially online. You should also check with local Asian markets. I keep a bottle of this in my pantry all the time now.

The next ingredient is Mirin. This gives the soup another nice Umami punch, but richer and sweeter. If you've ever had Teriyaki anything, you've tasted Mirin. If you don't have a bottle in your pantry, you're missing out. Mirin and Shio Koji - along with fresh lemon juice and seasoned rice wine vinegar are my go-to ingredients for a fast, tasty, light salad dressing.

I keep a LARGE bottle of Mirin in my pantry these days.

So, back to the soup making. Once you tossed everything into the blender the next step is complicated. Put the lid on tightly, and turn the blender on.

Low to begin, to reduce the larger vegetable chunks to small, then gradually increase the speed. I let it go at full tilt boogie for about 3 minutes to get that ultra smooth consistency. Taking the lid off for this photo took a bit of courage. Snort. I could just imagine a face full of soup.

As you can see, this recipe makes a nice batch that should deliver a few small-ish servings (as a side to other food) for my husband and I.

The soup was a nice addition to homemade Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls - filled with seasoned (back to the Mirin and Shio Koji again!) purple yam noodles, sliced baked Teriyaki tofu, green onions, slivers of carrot and sweet peppers and a chiffonade of Swiss Chard - with Thai sweet chili dipping sauce.

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