Yes, you read that correctly. Halloumi croutons. Croutons. Of cheese. Why I haven't made these before is an absolute mystery. I adore halloumi, that wonderfully salty cheese from Turkey. It fries up beautifully and is best served warm. Yotam featured a recipe with them way back in the summer. I had always lusted after the croutons but had never warmed to the idea of a chilled soup.
How wrong I was.
As usual, we were faced with the typical veg-box conundrum. How to use up all the gloriously fresh vegetables before they went...well, not so fresh? And with the other option being 5,000 stir fries, gazpacho is the clear answer.
Since being home in Arizona for the last few weeks, I have gloried in the wonders of 80 degree heat in December and January. But I still longed for my soups, eating hot broths often in just a tank top and shorts. Gazpacho let me have my cake and eat it too. It was a triple crown: soup, using up the veg box, and cheesy croutons. I call that a win, win, win.
80g dry breadcrumbs
Sunflower or canola oil, for frying
200g halloumi, cut into 2cm dice
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
Salt and white pepper
3 celery stalks
2 small green bell peppers, seeded
2 long cucumbers, peeled
3 slices stale white bread (I used baguette)
1 fresh green chile
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
6 cups baby spinach
1 cup basil leaves
4 tbsp chopped parsley
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 cup olive oil
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
about 2 cups water
9 oz ice cubes
2 tsp salt
For the Soup:
Roughly chop the celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, bread, chile, and garlic. Add to that the sugar, walnuts, spinach, basil, parsley, vinegar, oil, yogurt, most of the water, the salt and some white pepper. Blitz it all with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the ice cubes. Add more water, if needed, to get your preferred consistency. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.
For the Croutons:
Mix the breadcrumbs with the thyme. Pour enough oil into a small saucepan so that it comes 2.5cm up the sides and place on medium heat. Once bubbles begin to rise to the surface, turn down the heat to medium-low and leave for a minute. Dip the halloumi in beaten egg, shake off any excess and then roll in the thyme breadcrumbs. Deep-fry in batches for a minute, until golden-brown – make sure the oil isn't so hot that the cheese sizzles vigorously when it goes in. Transfer the cooked croutons to kitchen towel to drain.
Serve the soup immediately with the croutons on top.