Chill out with gazpacho

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When it's too hot to cook, an easy way to cool off is to sip some vegetables. And gazpacho, a chilled summertime soup, is just the ticket on a hot day.

This soup can be mighty good for you, too. You'll get a dose of lycopene, an antioxidant known for its health benefits, from the tomatoes. Fiber is an added boost as are the vitamins from other vegetables, which count as at least one (or more) serving of vegetables.

It's also a filling and satisfying soup.

Most gazpacho recipes are tomato-based (but you can make it with fruit). You can use fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes or you can roast tomatoes for a deeper flavor. Using cooked tomatoes ups the lycopene.

Today's recipe is adapted from one in the August 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.

It calls for a blend of low-sodium vegetable juice and diced tomatoes. If you use a good amount of regular tomato or vegetable juice, you can count on adding higher sodium. I prefer the low- or reduced-sodium juices so I can control the salt and other seasonings.

One serving is a filling 11/2 cups.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Gazpacho with Lobster

Serves: 6 (as main dish). Total time: 20 minutes (plus chilling time)

Adapted from Eating Well magazine, August 2013.

2 cups cubed day-old bread, optional

2 cups low-sodium vegetable juice (regular or spicy)

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic

1 bell pepper, diced

1 medium diced fennel bulb plus fennel fronds for garnish

1 cup diced tomato

⅓ cup finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon reduced-sodium Old Bay seasoning, plus more for garnishing glasses

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Several lime wedges

1½ to 2 cups chopped cooked lobster (optional)

1 avocado, pitted, diced

If using the bread, in a medium bowl soak the bread cubes in cold water for five to 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid.

In a large bowl combine bread, vegetable juice, fire-roasted tomatoes with juice, bell pepper, fennel, tomato, onion, vinegar, oil, Old Bay, pepper, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, at least 2 hours.

Rim serving glasses using a lime wedge. Sprinkle some Old Bay (or use celery salt) on dish. Dip the rim of the glasses in the seasoning. Spoon desired amount of gazpacho into the glass. Top each with a few tablespoons of diced lobster and avocado. Garnish with fennel fronds and lime wedges.

Per serving: 199 calories ( 44 percent from fat), 10 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 18 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 477 mg sodium, 26 mg cholesterol, 8 grams fiber.