GAZPACHO The Classic Chilled Tomato & Vegetable Soup from Spain By Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan
July 25, 2019
This is the answer to the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ dinner-dilemma. This soup can be made in 45 minutes or less and you may reap some leftovers for lunch. Add grilled shrimp or scallops for an easy protein upgrade.
The ingredients are raw, so be sure your vegetables are in primo condition.
Choose an olive oil that has a smooth, mild finish; a harsh or bitter olive oil will provide a jarring note in your finished soup.
All the vegetables are cut into pieces and blended together until smooth. Soaked bread is traditionally added; it provides a bit of body and creaminess. (and it’s fine to omit for a gluten-free version.)
Sherry vinegar is traditional; as it’s a vinegar from Spain. And it’s fine to substitute red wine vinegar.
Finally, a small amount of each vegetable is held back from blending and is finely-diced and added back to the finished soup. The diced vegetables provide a pleasing texture-crunch at the end.
- Prep: 45 mins
- Cook: 45 mins
- Yields: 8 To 10
3 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, your choice of shape and/or variety
2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
6 tablespoons finely diced red onion, divided (plus more as needed for taste)
2-ounce piece leftover baguette bread (or other crusty white bread)
¼ cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar (n.b. sherry vinegars vary in flavor greatly)
1 cup ice water (plus more as needed)
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Optional: pinch cayenne pepper
Prep the vegetables
Choose 3 bowls: one large bowl to hold all the prepped/cut vegetables, a second bowl to hold the smaller amounts of vegetables held back to be diced for garnish and the third bowl to hold the soaking bread. (And you may actually need a 4th bowl; that is, the serving ‘vessel’.)
Wash the tomatoes and shake off excess water. Remove the core from each tomato and cut into large 2-3-inch chunks. Add to the large bowl, and don’t worry about seeding the tomatoes. The blender will take care of the seeds.
Peel the cucumbers. Cut each cuke in half and save one of these halved pieces in the smaller “garnish” bowl. Cut the leftover pieces into large chunks and add to the ‘tomato’ bowl.
Wash the bell peppers and remove and discard the stems and seeds. Save a 4-inch piece of each color pepper to dice for garnish. Cut the rest of the peppers and add to the ‘tomato’ bowl.
Roughly tear up the bread into small pieces and soak in water- just to cover, don’t ‘float’ the bread in water!
Peel and chop the garlic. Add to the prepped tomatoes.
Finely dice enough red onion to yield about 1/3rd cup. Divide in half and add half to the ‘tomato’ bowl and the other half to the ‘garnish’ bowl. It’s better to add more onion if needed than to add to much in the beginning.
Lightly season all the vegetables in the bowl with some kosher salt (start with ½ teaspoon). Gently squeeze the excess water from the bread and add to the bowl. Add 2 tablespoons each of sherry vinegar and olive oil to the bowl. Stir to combine.
Blend in batches until smooth, add ½ cup water to blender as your puree. Repeat until all the vegetables are pureed. (Add the pureed batches of soup to your serving vessel that you will be bringing to the table.)
Taste and adjust seasoning…what does your palate want? …more salt or pepper?...more vinegar (add sparingly; just a few drops at a time) ……a bit more olive oil?
Let the soup chill while your chop the garnishes.
Finely dice the bell peppers and the cucumber piece and add back to the soup. Add the already diced red onion. Stir to combine. Taste again. Now add the pinch of cayenne for a BIT of heat.
Keep chilled until ready to serve. (Serving in chilled bowls is a nice touch as well.)
I grilled medium shrimp to serve with my gazpacho and I cut them in half (through the ‘curve’) so they would be easier to eat.
Skewered grilled scallops would also be delicious as would a big spoonful of lobster or crabmeat salad.
(I confess that a big spoonful of fresh Jonah crabmeat salad would be my absolute first choice!)