Gazpacho. Cold soup. Not much of a selling point is it? But for those of you who have had gazpacho, you know just how refreshing it is. Gazpacho is a Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup. It originated in the sunny southern region of Andalusia as a fresh, cool meal to combat the summer heat. There are many different versions, though this one is my favorite. For those of you who are hesitant to eat a cool soup, I can only say this: give it a try– I guarantee you’ll make this one every summer as the temperatures get above 90 degrees. It’s one of the most refreshing dishes you’ll ever taste.
The soup is a combination of the all the wonderful usual suspects from your late-summer garden or farmers’ market– cucumbers, red peppers, purple onion, garlic, and fresh tomatoes. They’re finely chopped in a food processor and then combined with tomato juice, a bit of white wine vinegar, and a really good olive oil. For gazpacho, you’ll definitely want to go with the best olive oil you have as it’s flavor is central to the soup. I also used my homemade, canned tomato juice, though as my stock is running low (canning tomatos will be available soon!) I can’t lend you an extra jar. If you can juice, use it as you’ll notice the difference in the final flavors. As an alternative, several grocery stores carry high-end juices which should work well. If you instead use a nation-wide brand, use Sacramento. I personally think it tastes better than any of the other well-known brands.
Gazpacho is the perfect make-ahead dish. It tastes better the longer it sits– the flavors have a chance to meld together. I like to make some homemade croutons to top it all off with. Hope you enjoy!
The Recipe: Gazpacho
2 medium-sized garden cucumbers, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
5-6 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion
3 large garlic cloves
3 cups good quality tomato juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
scant 1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes for a little heat, if desired
For the Croutons:
2 – 3 cups crusty bread, such as a baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss cubed bread pieces with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they have reached your desired crunchiness.
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into small pieces, roughly a 1-inch cube. Put each vegetable into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, separately. This is important for texture. Pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Make sure not to over-process.
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer it sits, the better it will be. Before serving top each bowl of soup with a handful of homemade croutons and some torn basil, if desired. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
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