A recipe inspired by a dish my dear friend Hilda shared with me many summers ago, this soup evolves and changes every year depending on what is growing in the garden. When the forecast calls for triple-digit temperatures, mix this gazpacho together in the morning, and by dinnertime, you’ll think it was the best decision you ever made. Because this soup is so quick and easy to make, I’ve included two cilantro-based toppings. The tomatoes and cilantro are both loaded with antioxidants that fight damage caused by free radicals.

GLUTEN-FREE, NUT-FREE, VEGETARIAN

SERVES 4 | PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES, PLUS 2 HOURS TO CHILL

FOR THE SOUP

2 cups corn kernels, cut from about 3 ears, or frozen

4 cups low-sodium organic tomato juice

2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)

½ English cucumber, peeled and cubed

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cubed

½ red onion, finely chopped

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE CILANTRO PESTO

2 cups finely chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ to ½ cup olive oil

FOR THE LIME CREMA

4 ounces cultured sour cream or plain yogurt

2 cups finely chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon grated lime zest

½ teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

TO MAKE THE SOUP

In a large bowl, combine the corn, tomato juice, tomatoes, cucumber, avocados, red onion, lime juice, garlic, and cayenne pepper (if using). Season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (the soup gets better the longer it chills to blend its flavors). Stir the soup, ladle into bowls, and top with a generous dollop of the pesto and lime crema.

TO MAKE THE CILANTRO PESTO

In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, lime juice, garlic, salt, and olive oil and stir until blended.

TO MAKE THE LIME CREMA

In another small bowl, combine the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, and salt and stir until blended.

INGREDIENT TIP: Cilantro is usually grown in very sandy soil. The best way to remove the sandy grit caught within the leaves is to fill a medium-size bowl with water. Hold the bunch of cilantro by the stem ends and swish the leaves around in the water. You will see the sand sink to the bottom of the bowl. Change the water and repeat until the water is clear; dry well with a clean towel.

HERB PROFILE

CILANTRO

Fresh or dried leaf; seeds are known as coriander

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS: None known

TASTE/ACTIVITY: SPICY/COOL/DRY

PROPERTIES: Antioxidant, carminative, chelating agent

USES: Relieves gas, bloating, and nausea; relieves intestinal viruses, bad gut bacteria, and bacterial diarrhea; removes heavy metals in the body

SUGGESTED PREPARATIONS: Compound butter, fresh herb paste, in salads, tea

ESPECIALLY GOOD FOR: REMOVING HEAVY METALS

Recent studies have focused on cilantro’s potential to remove heavy metals, particularly lead and mercury, from the tissues in the body. There has been both positive and inconclusive evidence to support this use. More studies are needed. Fresh cilantro is packed with antioxidants that prevent degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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