Forget half-price slushes at Sonic: Ice-cold gazpacho may be the perfect summertime treat. Both satisfying and refreshing, gazpacho has adopted many forms, but most commonly it is a chilled, tomato-based raw vegetable soup usually featuring garlic, olive oil, stale bread, and vinegar for light tartness.
The soup is an ideal way of repurposing leftover vegetables in the fridge, but we'd rather let the experts dish it up. This brings us to our latest Battle of the Dishes: the gazpacho at Rita's Kitchen at the Camelback Inn. vs. A Touch of European Café in Glendale.
Find out the facts after the jump...
In One Corner: Rita's Kitchen
5402 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, 480-948-1700
The Set Up: Blended golden tomatoes and yellow peppers, crunchy white corn, icy green peppers swirled with a mix of garlic, red wine vinaigrette, and spicy sauce in a generous bowl, garnished with green onions.
Pros: The soup was chilly, smooth and a bright summery yellow. An array of textures -- the lightly pureed broth, fresh corn and strong, chewy onions -- made for a diverse, pulpy consistency that added to the freshness.
Cons: We expected a kick from the soup's famous hot pepper sauce, but the kitchen was either stingy with it the day we visited -- or completely out. The brew tasted strongly of vinegar and tomato, but a fiery zest was definitely lacking.
Suggestion: Bring on the heat!
In the Other Corner: A Touch of European Café 7146 N. 57th Dr., Glendale, 623-847-7119 The Set Up: We ordered this to-go, so in a hefty cup we brought home an Arctic-cold medley of diced red peppers, stout cucumbers, finely chopped bread, and various Spanish spices. The broth was lightly salty with a caustic yet sweet tomato base.
Pros: The more traditional of the two, the soup had an evenly chunky texture that was incredibly fresh and filling. It was so cold it was almost icy - but no complaint here.
Cons: Although nothing could have been more refreshing, it could've used just a smidge less salt and maybe another dash of pepper.
Suggestion: Make it more often! It's not gettin' any cooler out; chilly-but-healthy lunches are desperately needed.
The Verdict: The winner is A Touch of European Café. Their gazpacho had so much more flavor and was very filling for a light lunch. Next time we'll sit inside the cool, cozy dining room or perhaps on the shaded porch.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.