It’s the end of the summer and you really only have two choices – ratatouille or gazpacho – to cope with an overabundance of tomatoes. Unless you turn to the old-fashioned method of canning, these dishes are two of the easiest ways to get rid of large quantities of tomatoes quickly.

Ratatouille, a popular dish from the south of France, is made by slowly simmering lots of tomatoes with eggplant, onions, peppers and zucchini, all of which, if you have a vegetable garden, are probably in large supply, too.

The cold Spanish soup, gazpacho, takes the same approach. This refreshing, uncooked soup is made quickly by pureeing fresh tomatoes with other end-of-summer surplus. It’s a liquid salad served in a bowl or glass, depending on the consistency.

Gazpacho comes from the Spanish word caspicias, meaning “remainders” or “worthless things.” This soup, however, is far from worthless. Gazpacho’s tomatoes, garlic and onions contain phytochemicals that help protect against cancer and other chronic diseases, making this chilled refresher a powerful ally.

Tomatoes, for example, especially cooked versions like juice and sauce, are a major source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant thought to reduce the risk of some cancers. (Red and pink grapefruit and watermelon also supply lycopene.) The darker the color, the higher the lycopene content.

Gazpacho is not cooked, so there’s no work over a hot stove, and because it’s prepared in advance, it’s a perfect dish for company, giving you more time with guests.

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Using raw ingredients retains a fresh flavor and nutritional content. In gazpacho, each of the many vegetables used keeps its distinct flavor. And adding cold tomato/vegetable juice unifies these flavors and enhances the taste.

Gazpacho or other cold summer soups should not be served icy cold, which dulls their flavors. Let these soups sit for a while after taking them out of the refrigerator. And taste just before serving to check if the seasonings need to be adjusted.

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Gazpacho

Yield: Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh, whole plum tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1-1/4 cups canned tomato/vegetable juice
  • 2 slices stale, thinly-sliced white bread crusts removed
  • 3 generous dashes hot sauce, or to taste
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup finely diced cucumber
  • 2/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup finely diced raw zucchini
  • 2/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 2/3 cup diced red onion

Ingredients:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes and garlic. Puree to a coarse pulp. Add juice and blend. Tear stale bread slices into 4 pieces. Add to blender and puree to give mixture a pulpy quality. Mix in hot pepper sauce, cayenne, vinegar, oil and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings with hot sauce, cayenne and black pepper. Chill, covered, overnight.
  2. Before serving, let gazpacho stand for a short time, until just pleasantly cold. Taste and check if seasonings need to be adjusted. Serve in four bowls or tall glasses. Garnish top of each serving with a generous spoonful each of diced cucumber, green pepper, zucchini, celery and onion.

Per serving:
103 calories,
2 g. total fat (0 g. saturated fat),
19 g. carbohydrate,
3 g. protein,
3 g. dietary fiber,
286 mg. sodium.

Diabetic Exchanges:
1/2 Bread/Starch, 3 Vegetable