Etymology: Middle English heirlome, from heir + lome implement
You may have read in previous posts of mine that, for me, most of my fondest memories involve food. Scratch that – they entirely revolve around food. One of the fondest parts of my childhood were spent going out for brunch with my family at “our” restaurant: The Good Earth. That was the only restaurant we would frequent, and for good reason. The food was awesome. Did I mention is was awesome? Whole grain breads, fresh seasonal produce, a patient staff, and a natural, simple interior. Even as a kid I recognized the quality of every bite that went into my mouth. My most-ordered dish was their spicy gazpacho soup – fresh cucumbers, tomatoes,peppers and basil, zingy cayenne, and served with their soft, warm whole wheat sunflower seed rolls – oh, man, that takes me back! No deep-fried chicken nuggets and fries here. And the prices were affordable for my hardworking dad and mom – things were tight back then, and taking a family out to eat was a very special occasion. One that we always were thankful for, and never took for granted.
Sadly, they closed down due to some corporate battle that I do not recall the details of. I believe there is a Good Earth restaurant open somewhere in California, but alas, my childhood family haunt here in AZ is no more. For years, I have been searching for recipes close to those we enjoyed there, and to no avail. I found a gazpacho recipe down a trail of internet searches that included the words “Good Earth” at the very bottom…and I was skeptical.
I decided to give it a go yesterday, afraid to be sadly disappointed, but not wanting to give up without a good ‘ol college try. When you hold on to a memory so fondly, such as the memory of a small brick house with a perfectly large back yard that you grew up in(ahem, me), and decide one day, years later, to drive by that old dear place and discover it to be overgrown with weeds and dying from neglect, it hurts. So, even though this is just a soup – it holds more than just nutrients for me. It holds the memory of a place where I was always happy walking into – no anger, no fear, no worries – just a family escaping the hardships of the world for a couple hours and enjoying a meal together.
So yesterday, I gathered my ingredients, and with some excited trepidation, began my preparation.
Pictured above are some heirloom tomatoes, especially chosen for this recipe. I am sure the restaurant used whatever tomatoes they had on hand, but I felt this would be fitting, as they are just in season, and so horribly pretty, too.
My first bite yielded a burst of perfect memory. This soup, simple as it is, refreshed my recollection of some of the happiest times I had with my family- playing tic-tac-toe with my step mom on the paper place mats (the children’s menu), sips of my dad’s spicy iced cinnamon tea (which he always sweetened with raw sugar), bringing my new little baby sister for the first time to sit at our table…
Now, years later, all grown up and with many more memorable times behind me, I have a taste to pass on to my kids – a sampling of my happy memories, rolled into what will hopefully be theirs. And yours, too.
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
Two seeded bell peppers (I used red and orange), chopped
1 large english cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 cups (about 4 good sized) fresh heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (including juices)
4 smallish garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (i went easy on this one – for the kiddos sake)
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
A few fresh cracks of black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
A small handful of freshly minced basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Place all ingredients into a large serving bowl and process with an immersion blender until blended well but not completely pureed (a few chunks of vegetables left is a good thing!).
Serve with fresh basil, sour cream, and sweet memories, if desired.