While it still feels like summer, we are slowly making the transition into fall…my favorite season. Not only for the rich colors, but also for comfort foods – most notably: soup. While I tend to lean towards soups that provide warmth in a bowl, this blend of cucumbers and grapes is refreshing and loaded with flavor. Since we live in the Napa Valley where the grape is king of agriculture, I’m always looking for ways to use them beyond a glass of wine (although, that’s just fine, too:)

Smoky Grape and Cucumber Gazpacho – Serves 4-6


2 garlic cloves
4 1/2 cups (1 1/2 lbs.) organic seedless green grapes, divided
1 cup toasted sliced almonds, divided
4 to 5 TB sherry vinegar
About 1 TB extar-virgin or smoked olive oil (delicious! The Smoked Olive)
About 1 tsp. kosher salt
3 green onions, green and white parts separated, then thinly sliced
4 cups chopped small Persian cucumbers, plus 1/4 cup quartered and thinly sliced Persian cucumber
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 lime
Cilantro, chopped
Avocado, diced (optional)

In a food processor, whirl garlic to mince. Add 4 cups grapes, 1/3 cup almonds, 4 TB vinegar, 1 TB oil, 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp. salt, and white parts of green onions; pulse until it becomes a nice chunky blend. Transfer to a bowl. Put chopped cucumbers, 1/3 cup almonds, and 1/4 cup water in food processor; whirl until almost smooth and add to bowl.
Stir soup to blend, then chill, covered, at least 2 hours.
Cut remaining 1/2 cup grapes in half. Season soup to taste with more vinegar and salt if you like. Divide among four bowls and top with a little sliced cucum­ber, green parts of green onions, some of remain­ing grapes and almonds and paprika. Drizzle with oil, squeeze lime and serve remaining toppings on the side.
Make ahead: Through step 2, up to 1 day, chilled.


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