This Gazpacho Verde recipe makes the perfect introduction to an outdoor meal on a hot summer evening. Served chilled, it is both cooling and refreshing, with a refined flavour that is out of this world. This cold (vegan) soup can form the base for countless variations of garnishes and complementary items. It’s a very simple recipe, with only a handful of ingredients — but it must be prepared in advance so it has at least one to two hours to chill.

3 cups English cucumber, sliced thinly
1 cup fresh Sweet Basil leaves
2 Tbsp fresh Oregano leaves, removed from stems
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
a pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar (or sherry vinegar, adjusted to taste with sugar – start with a smaller amount)
1/2 cup of cold water

Add all the ingredients to a standard blender. Pulse at first, if necessary, and then liquefy for one or two minutes. Pass the soup through a fine sieve into a medium sized bowl, pushing with the aid of a spatula or spoon until around one quarter cup of dry, fibrous matter is left in the sieve. Add more water for a thinner soup, if desired. Taste the soup and adjust for seasoning, if necessary. Wrap the bowl in cling film, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Three to four hours will ensure that it is properly chilled. Consider chilling the serving bowls as well.

Garnish just before serving with thinly sliced cucumber and a leaf of fresh basil, with a few drips of olive oil. Lightly dust with a small pinch of paprika for contrasting colour.

Optional garnishes are many. Try it with finely chopped chives or some thin slices of crisp toast. Try it with a dollop of cream cheese in the middle, or some other soft cheese like Spanish Burrata or Greek Feta. It also pairs well with strawberries or grapes, or a thin slice of pear. Keep the garnishes minimal to fully enjoy the flavour of the gazpacho.