Gazpacho Soup | Recipe | Healthy Eating

Growing up, there was an "old couple" who lived near my family.  Looking back, they couldn't have been much older than what my parents are now, but at that time, they seemed ancient!  I was 8-years-old when their only child passed away from multiple-sclerosis.  My parents explained to me that, "The old people down the street are very sad and they may like to see your smiling face.  Stop by and say hello on your way home from school."  And so I did.

"Mr. Irish" was a short, stocky Irish-man who always had a joke up his sleeve.  And his wife, a refined, elegant lady with silky red hair, was an expert baker.  To an 8-year-old, jokes and cookies - what's not to like?!  So from 2nd through 8th grade, I would go visit almost every day after school.  Mr. Irish would always have a new joke or story ready and Mrs. Irish would have some cookies and hot chocolate with big, colored marshmallows waiting for me.

The Irish's became like a third set of grand-parents, for lack of a better term.  They didn't have much of an extended family and after their daughter's passing, we became their family.  They attended every graduation, school play, piano recital, Christmas, birthday...  The stories I could tell you about them would have you laughing with tears running down your face: Like the time when Mr. Irish's car stalled at a red light.  He tried starting it over and over again, but it was dead.  The guy behind him was laying on the horn, so Mr. Irish took the keys out of the ignition, walked over to the man and said, "Here are the keys to my car.  You try to start it and I'll honk your horn for you."  I'm telling you, this guy was a riot!

The other night I was thinking about the first time my family was invited to dinner at the Irish's home.  I was still 8 and I had never eaten gazpacho, at least not that I can recall.  I loved it!  So much so, that like Oliver Twist, I asked for seconds.  My mom gave me a gentle shake of the head to indicate it wasn't polite to ask for seconds if it hadn't been offered, but I insisted, "It's good!  I'd really like some more, please."  Despite my mom's best efforts, I was a still kid who wanted more gazpacho!

I wish I had Mrs. Irish's gazpacho recipe.  I don't know if it's just my memory that made her gazpacho so incredible or if it really was that good.  I made gazpacho last night and think it's a decent replica of the original, at least as I remember it. 

Gazpacho is perfect for a hot, summer night!!  I like mine a little chunky, but not so chunky that it's no longer a soup.  While many recipes call for a red bell pepper, I prefer the color a green pepper adds.  Be sure to reserve some of the diced vegetables for garnish.

Gazpacho Soup Recipe
Yields: 8 large servings, main meal

4 large heirloom tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1/2 large red onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp hot sauce, more if desired
4 c low-sodium tomato juice

1. Place tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and celery in a food processor.  Pulse 5-10 times.  Vegetables should be blended together, but still slightly chunky.  NOTE: Reserve a few tablespoons of diced vegetables for garnish, if desired, before placing in the food processor.
2. Transfer vegetables to a large soup tureen or bowl.  Stir in parsley through tomato juice.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Soup is best when made the day before.  Serve cold.


Adrienne said... [Reply]

What a touching story. Whatever happened to them?

I had an old friend, Mr. Seavey, who I hung out with one summer when we lived in Massachusetts. I was 10 years old and spent every day with him - making NE clam chowder, going for walks, picking blueberries, fishing. He was such a sweet man.

I have never been a big fan of gazpacho. But if I find some big beautiful heirlooms, I will give it another try.

Tracy Wood said... [Reply]

I loved reading about your special neighbors! The little lady living next door to me when I was a young girl was "Mrs. G." and she invited us in to her house for cookies and cake all the time. We were allowed to run around in her back yard also, which was heavenly!
PS. I have never made gazpacho! Crazy because I love tomatoes!

Mrs. Stranded said... [Reply]

@Adrienne The Irish's stayed a part of our family. When it was tougher to visit when I was in high school due to all my extra-cirricular activities, but I would still see them on weekends. Mr. Irish passed away a little over five years ago. He was such an important part of my life, I was the one who gave his eulogy. I think of him all the time and miss him to this day.

Mrs. Irish was placed in a nursing home this past week, probably what got me reminiscing. My parents took care of her as long as they could, but her dimentia became too advanced for her to be cared for at home.

It's nice that you have such fond memories of Mr. Seavey. It's amazing how people come into our lives and can leave such an impact, huh?

Mrs. Stranded said... [Reply]

@Tracy WoodI hope that one day I'll be someone's "Mrs. Irish" or "Mrs. G." Think about the fond memories they created for us just by being friendly and letting us enjoy being kids. I hope you try the gazpacho!

Anonymous said... [Reply]

Your story left me with tears streaming down my face. I was so touched by the kindness that you and your parents showed these people. What truly good people you are and parents are to others.

I'll try your gazpacho recipe this weekend! I've always pushed mine through a strainer - a lot of work - so this chunky version will be a nice change and I'll probably end up making it more often. Thanks for recipe and the heart warming story.


Mrs. Stranded said... [Reply]

@Anonymous Cynthia - thank you for your comment! The Irish's ended up being an influential part of my life and gave me just as much as I gave them, if not more. It's funny how it worked out that way.

Pushing gazpacho through a strainer does sound like a lot of work! I hope you enjoy this version.

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said... [Reply]

I'm sure you have no idea the joy that your brought to these people. A very sweet tale. Your gazpacho recipe looks delicious. I love gazpacho and am anxiously waiting to harvest tomatoes so I can make some.

Mrs. Stranded said... [Reply]

@Pattie @ Olla-Podrida Pattie - Funny you should say that because I saw Mrs. Irish a few weeks before she left for the nursing home and she told me how much my brother and I helped them get through the first few years after their daughter's passing. The other day, I stumbled upon a note Mrs. Irish wrote me after I gave Mr. Irish's eulogy. It read: "Only few knew 'Mr. Irish' imtimately as you in order to write and deliver such a sweet, loving eulogy. Hearing those memories was a great comfort for me. I truly love you like my own. xx" And truthfully, I loved them right back like they were my grandparents.

As for the tomatoes, I wish we had a little garden here to grow tomatoes and spices, but our property is so shady, all we can grow is weeds! Next year I may try some potted tomatoes on my steps. I hope you get a bountiful tomato crop this year!

Lara said... [Reply]

I cried when I read your touching story. How lucky the 'Irish' were to have a friend in you and your family. The elderly are often abandoned by their family and ignored by their friends. They must have been very special to you.

I will try your gaspacho recipe and say a little prayer for 'Mrs. Irish.'


Mrs. Stranded said... [Reply]

@Lara Thank you for offering up a prayer for Mrs. Irish. With her change in environment, I'm sure she'll need it now more than ever.

The Irish's were extremely special to me and my entire family. Your comment about the elderly being abandoned by family and friends - suffice it to say you hit the nail on the head. Another reason why your prayers are appreciated.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you stop by again and enjoy the gazpacho!

Mamma said... [Reply]

I was so pleased to see your thoughts on the 'Irishes', especially now that 'Mrs. Irish' is gone. When I pass her house I get a big lump in my throat. I miss her sweetness and concern. Every morning she’d greet me with “Hmm, you smell so good” and every evening she’d give me a great, big hug and urge me to rest because I “work too hard.” The 'Irishes' have enriched our lives and I feel blessed to have known them and have had the opportunity help them.

I will try the gazpacho soup, and every time I do, I will remember and cherish our good time together.

Mrs. Stranded said... [Reply]

@Mamma Mom, I know how sad you are and I wish I could say something to make you feel better. But there isn't much to feel good about with how this all transpired. Remember that feeling when Mr. Irish passed away in his sleep and we felt like we weren't able to say good-bye? I have that same feeling - almost as if Mrs. Irish died too. It's upsetting they put her in a nursing home in middle of nowhere. Who's going to visit her there? Let's be honest - it's not like they're going to. They never bothered when she lived in her own house, why would they now? If they had placed her in a nursing home near home then we, and her friends, could have visited regularly. Do they even grasp how important she is to us? There are so many things I want to say, but it will just make us even more sad and won't be constructive.

So, I'll leave you with this: We may not have been related by blood, but The Irish's were our family and we were theirs. You and papa' should feel good knowing you were able to keep Mrs. Irish happy and safe at home for as long as possible. You showed her she was loved, provided her with companionship and cared for her to the best of your abilities, despite your own broken bones, hip replacements, flu and blizzards. You enriched her life as much as she enriched ours. And that's something to feel good about. The next time I'm home, let's take the three hour drive and go visit her together. xo

Carline said... [Reply]

I like reading about your family and friends. This was a particularly moving story. How is Mrs. Irish doing in the nursing home? It must be very tough for her. I too had an elderly friend with whom I was close. She was fortunate to have caring sisters who took care of her when her mind failed. Keep up your good work.

PS: My friends loved the gazpacho soup! They also make it but with no hot sauce or celery. They loved the zing.

Mrs. Stranded said... [Reply]

@Carline Caroline, so glad you tried the gazpacho and your friends liked it! It makes me so happy to hear when people have tested my recipes with positive results :)

Your friend was certainly fortunate to have a loving sister to care for her. I can tell you that that's not always the case. How is your friend doing?