With summer basically here, I thought a nice gazpacho recipe was in order.
Gazpacho is the chilled, tomato-based raw soup that originated in Andalusia, Spain, possibly after the Moorish incursion brought a simple peasant’s soup of olive oil, water, garlic, and stale bread to the region. Fortunately, those peasants soon grew tired of their meager gruel and began incorporating fresh vegetables from the fields to liven up the dish. Onions, cucumbers, and various herbs were standard fare until Columbus brought back tomatoes and peppers from the New World. Today, gazpacho is best known as a cold tomato soup, but good gazpacho is much, much more than throwing a can of Campbell’s in the fridge. Truly excellent gazpacho must be fresh and feature a wide range of interplaying flavors. Consistency ranges from truly smooth and soupy to thick and chunky (almost like a salsa), but fresh vegetables and quality ingredients are always key.
I’ve never made gazpacho before, but I have had some excellent ones. What I can remember is that each was different (but similar). Each was obviously based on fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, and herbs, but the proportions were different enough to give a different experience in each bowl. Some even incorporated watermelon or grapes. Some were spicy, some were sweet. I figured as long as I had good ingredients and fresh vegetables, anything would work – or at least be edible.
First and foremost, I needed quality tomatoes. These were going to be the foundation of the soup, and they had to be good. I headed down to the farmers’ market for some bulbous, dark red heirloom tomatoes. Three large ones did the trick. I also picked up some parsley, Persian cucumbers (seedless), fresh oregano, green bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro. Garlic, olive oil , hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, and lemon I already had.
This was a quick bang-up job. It was almost criminal how easy it was to make. I simply chopped up everything and tossed it in the food processor, all of it at once. After a minute of whirring I started adding a bit of sea salt, pepper, vinegar, and hot sauce to taste. I was worried I might have to add some commercial tomato juice or a broth to make it soupier, but I never had to. The juice from the vegetables themselves was plenty. To finish it off, I added two hard-boiled eggs to give it some body.
Still, something was a little off. It wasn’t chunky, but it wasn’t smooth either. I like my gazpacho a little more smooth, so I poured the mix into my blender and finished it off there. That did it. I was done, and my gazpacho creation had far exceeded my expectations.
So what were the exact measurements? For one, I didn’t measure exactly and, for two, it’s more fun to come up with your own. There’s a lot of leeway when you’re dealing with fresh vegetables and herbs, so don’t stress too much over the amounts. I’ll give you approximates, though:
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (pick extra juicy ones)
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
4 tablespoons cilantro
5 cloves garlic
1/2 large red onion
2 hard boiled eggs
Juice from half a lemon
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Hot sauce to taste
Just throw it all in a food processor or a blender (or even a big mortar and pestle, like how they used to do it) and blend. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, and hot sauce as it’s blending, making sure to stop it every once in awhile to taste. Once you’re done, let it chill for a few hours before serving. If you wait a few days, the flavors deepen and your gazpacho can even improve. I like it fresh myself, but most people prefer it after a few days in the fridge. Your choice. I like my gazpacho either solo or with a few slices of avocado and some seared scallops. Again, your choice.
I’d love to hear about any other gazpacho recipes from you guys. Is there anything I left out in mine? Let me know!