I grew up in a family of gardeners, and I always pictured myself as the green thumb type. A few years ago we had our front yard redesigned and added in a brick raised bed garden. I was gung-ho for about the first month of gardening, but eventually I gave up and let M take over. Now M’s the resident gardener and every year, he cultivates record numbers of tomatoes, herbs and peppers. One of my favorite ways to honor M’s hard work and celebrate ripe summer tomatoes is with Traditional Spanish Gazpacho.
The cold vegetable soup hails from Spain’s Andalusia region. Nestled in the southernmost part of Spain, Andalusia offers extreme diversity in its landscape and culture. It has vast expanses of agricultural land, a long Mediterranean coastline and dust-dry mountain ranges. Historically, its architecture, culture and cuisine pay homage to the many civilizations that once controlled the region, including the Romans, Vandals, Moors and Arabs.
Gazpacho can be traced as far back as pre-Roman times, with the original recipe likely consisting of stale bread mixed with garlic, oil and water. When agriculture was mastered in the region, farmers added in fresh vegetables. The recipe for classic gazpacho remains nearly unchanged from this later agrarian version and includes stale bread, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, tomato, cucumber and bell pepper—and that’s my favorite way to make it.
Vine-ripened tomatoes are absolutely essential to get the most flavor out of this simple soup. It’s still too early in the season for M’s tomato crop to reach peak harvest, so we supplemented the soup with a mixture of beefsteak and roma tomatoes from the local Farmers Market.
Taking a cue from Bon Appetit, which recently published, “Don’t Make These Common Gazpacho Mistakes,” I first peeled and deseeded the tomatoes. It’s pretty easy: just score an “X” into the bottom of each tomato, blanch in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, and then remove and place in an ice bath to cool. The skin should peel off easily at that point. To deseed, just cut the tomato in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds over a bowl. Check out Kitchen Daily’s video to see the technique in action.
After this step, the gazpacho comes together in a flash. Just throw chopped tomatoes, garlic, cucumber, red onion, red bell pepper, stale bread, olive oil and vinegar into a blender and puree to your desired consistency. If you’re eating gluten-free, go ahead and swap out the bread with your favorite grain-free version, or add in a handful of almonds or cashews. Ample amounts of salt and pepper, and maybe a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, round out the soup.
After a two-hour rest in the chill chest, the soup is ready to be served with your favorite accoutrements. My favorites include chopped cucumber, sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs (try chives, basil or parsley), crispy Serrano ham or chorizo, creme fraiche, and, of course, a drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil. I also garnished my bowl with a beautiful (and edible) purple chive flower. Serve Traditional Spanish Gazpacho in shot glasses for an easy appetizer or pair with Pan Con Tomate for an easy, elegant Spanish summer supper.
- 2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, mined
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup stale white bread, moistened with water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (recommended: sherry, red wine or white wine)
- 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Fill a small bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of water and add stale bread, torn into pieces. Set aside.
- To peel and deseed your tomatoes: Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Score an "X" into the bottom of each tomato and plunge in boiling water for 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. When cool, remove core with paring knife and peel tomatoes. Cut in half crosswise and squeeze out seeds. Chop tomatoes and place in a blender or food processor.
- Peel, deseed and chop cucumber. Add to blender/food processor.
- Squeeze out excess water from bread and add to blender/food processor along with garlic, peppers, olive oil, onion, vinegar and salt to taste.
- Process until desired texture.
- Add additional soaked bread to thicken, if necessary, and blend until smooth. If you prefer a thinner texture, add water and process again.
- Add additional olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to reach desired taste.
- Chill for at least two hours to blend flavors.
- Serve chilled gazpacho with your favorite toppings, such as creme fraiche or sour cream, crispy Serrano ham or chorizo, chopped cucumber, chopped bell pepper, sliced tomato, fresh herbs and a drizzle of oilve oil.
This is an update of a recipe I originally posted in 2012. Read the original post.