Watson's spicy, ginger-laced gazpacho

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Watson's spicy, ginger-laced gazpacho

'Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson' is a collaboration between IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Once a week, as part of an ongoing series, we'll be preparing one recipe from the book until we've made all of them. Wish us luck.

So this is how I knew I was in trouble the first time I saw Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson (which, by the way, only happened after I agreed to cook my way through the book): there's a specific section for home cooks and it's only seven recipes long. This particular section of the book is a bit different from the rest. For it IBM partnered with Bon Appétit and trimmed the reservoir of recipes that Watson was riffing off of to just the 9,000 or so already in the publication's database. The results are much more friendly for those that don't have access to an commercial kitchen, but they're no less interesting from a flavor profile and serve as evidence that even mortal humans can benefit from Watson's creative kick in the pants.

Gallery: Cooking with Watson: Spicy tomato gazpacho with ginger | 26 Photos

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The beauty of a recipe like this spicy tomato gazpacho with ginger is that it's so simple and yet still incredibly unique. Nothing here is particularly hard to find at you local megamart and the techniques used are as basic as can be. But the results are still quite different from anything you'd normally encounter in your culinary adventures through your kitchen. And that's due to a number of things. For one, putting ginger in gazpacho is a pretty interesting move. Admittedly it's not completely out of left field, tomatoes and ginger play quite well together, but traditionally those are in stews and curries with a warm base of cumin and other earthy spices.

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The ginger adds significant warmth to the soup as does the sweating it, along with the leeks and beefsteak tomato in oil. The decision to actually cook these aromatics transforms the gazpacho from something that is relentlessly bright and fresh, to something with a bit of depth you don't normally find in cold tomato soup. And the choice of cherry tomatoes pushes the dish in a sweeter direction that meshes well with the ginger and jalapeño. Often gazpacho can end up just tasking like a bowl of pico de gallo, but this recipe avoids that pitfall.

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As far as the skills you need to make this: Just have a basic level of hand-eye coordination. If you have rudimentary knife skills, know how to sweat aromatics over low heat and can turn on (and off) a blender, you should be good. The entire recipe involve slowly warming the aromatics to pull the moisture out of them, letting them cool, then dumping them in a blender with the rest of the ingredients.

The final result past the taste test with flying colors, though this is far from what anyone was expecting when they heard the word "gazpacho." But honestly, that's sort of the whole point of Watson and its greatest successes are the ones that go down easy but still catch you off guard.

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