“More cucumber please and a little bit of the croutons.” I looked sheepishly and excitedly up at our waiter.   An ice cold bowl of tomato gazpacho had been placed before me.  I was filled with both a salivating hunger and the self-conscious desire of a child who had newly come into a food self possession: I knew what I liked and gazpacho with lots fresh toppings was the star of my list.

Gazpacho was introduced to me by my parents at a Spanish restaurant in Baltimore called Tio Pepe’s.  Tio Pepe’s was known as the “pinnacle” of fine food and gourmet cutting edge cuisine in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Still a special occasion powerhouse, the restaurant showcases the classic cuisine of Spain.  Gazpacho is their classic starter soup and I fell in love with the zesty cool combination of flavors at a tender age.

It is the perfect way to use tomatoes at the height of the season.  The soup requires no at-the-stove cooking and is served cold, keeping your preparation time down and the heat off in your kitchen.

Gazpacho is to Spain as the hamburger is to the US: a ubiquitous dish with as many manifestations as their are families.  Thought to have originated as a means to use stale bread,  garlic, tomatoes and crusts of a week-old loaf were traditionally mixed in a mortar and pestle.  Gazpacho is has become a great “kitchen sink” soup.  By using tomatoes as the base ingredient, you can experiment with adding your garden’s ripest veggies. Sweet and hot peppers, added with cucumber, make for interesting textures and flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded and roughly chopped
  • 8 large tomatoes – no need to skin them just wash, core, and rough chop
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tsp hot sauce – I like Cholula for this preparation
  • OPTIONAL: Add in one of your garden’s hot peppers like a serrano, poblano, or habanero.  Add in with garlic

Directions

Roughly chop the veggies and put them in batches into high powered blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped.If you use a blender, add some of the vinegar and olive oil to help puree the veggies.
Combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt, hot sauce and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. This is best served the next day.  Serve with a small swirl of best quality extra virgin olive oil and pass around chopped cucumber to top the soup.  This makes a great meal with a crusty bread.

 

Originally posted in DOW JONES/SMG 2012

Photo by the Lovely Jessica Elsemore – Soup by Jesse Schenker of Recette in NYC. ( If you look closely, you can see Jessica and I in the spoon.)
by Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

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