When a garden-loving father of a friend gave me a huge basket of tomatoes… I had to make gazpacho!
The beauty of gazpacho is that it comes together quickly and uses summer vegetables at their peak. That said, I love the smoky, roasted flavor of some vegetables so I now make it by broiling or grilling some of them. I leave the tomatoes and cucumber raw to maintain the summer freshness of chilled soup – the essence of gazpacho. To me it’s worth heating up the kitchen a bit to get that added complex flavor boost.
Gazpacho originates from Andalusia, Spain, although many other cultures have adopted it and made it their own. The recipe usually calls for sherry vinegar, which is very popular in that region. If you don’t already have sherry vinegar in your pantry, just omit it or use white wine vinegar. It’s an ingredient that perks up other flavors, but be sparing; a little goes a long way.
See also (including a very funny short video about gazpacho): Chilled Zucchini Soup
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- 2 pounds (32 ounces) plum or San Marzano tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped (you may use other types of tomatoes but plum and San Marzano are meatier, with less liquid)
- 1/2 of a large red onion
- 1 large (about 8 – 10 inches long) cucumber, peeled and de-seeded
- 1 small red, orange or yellow bell pepper
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (or 2 pieces of sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces)
- Gluten-Free Option: If you do not consume gluten, you may omit the breadcrumbs altogether or substitute the bread for a medium peeled and boiled starchy potato
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar if you don’t already have sherry vinegar)
- 1 – 2 peeled and roughly chopped garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, if you like it spicy
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Toppings: all optional, but you can use croutons, chopped onions, scallions, cilantro, or cucumbers, or a dollop of yogurt or sour cream
- There are two gazpacho options here: The first is the traditional using all raw ingredients, blended. The second option uses some grilled or broiled vegetables to add a nice smoky flavor and some raw vegetables to maintain the freshness. The broiled or grilled option is an extra step, but it’s the version I prefer. I am making the broiled version, but directions for both follow
- For the grilled or broiled version, broil the red pepper about 6 inches away from the broiler, rotating it until all sides blacken (Only blacken the skin, do not completely roast the pepper until it is fully cooked.). Once you’ve removed the pepper from the oven, let it cool then dice it, removing the stem and all the seeds. Place the onion half face up, about 5 inches away from the boiler and broil until the cut side blackens a little. Continue with the instruction 3, below (except, of course, you’ve broiled the onion and red pepper)
- For the all raw vegetable version, place the diced red pepper, diced onion, diced cucumber, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and vinegar in a blender or food processor. Blend or pulse until the vegetables are finely minced
- Add the tomatoes and breadcrumbs to the blender or food processor
- If you want the soup chunky, stop short of blending or pulsing to your desired consistency. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil so it has time to emulsify and allow the tomatoes to reach your desired consistency
- If you want your soup smooth, blend or process at the highest speed until it looks smooth and then with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil
- Transfer the soup from the blender or food processor into a container that will fit into your refrigerator
- Chill for at least four hours (If you want this for lunch, make it in the morning. If you want it for dinner, make it in the early afternoon.) Stir or whisk the gazpacho well before pouring into serving bowls. Serve as is, or with croutons, chopped onions or cucumbers, cilantro, or a dollop of yogurt or sour cream