Gazpacho

“De gazpacho no hay empacho”
– There is never too much Gazpacho!
Is there a dish recreates summer more eloquently than Gazpacho? Probably not, for this ancient Andalusian soup is made with only the freshest, warm weather ingredients and then served cold, preferably over ice, for a truly refreshing and satisfying summer meal.
Gazpacho is the only cold soup that I have made. There is something about its bold flavours that brings to mind Bloody Mary cocktails, yet, despite being alcohol free, it is far more complex than that. It is simple and quick to prepare but the chilling is essential, the flavours need time to mingle and, like a Moussaka is best at room temperature, so the Gazpacho is best served cold, cold, cold.
The dish, although thought of as being Spanish, originates from the Roman days, many hundreds of years ago, a peasant dish made from just olive oil and stale bread. The word Gazpacho is a derivative of the Latin word caspa, meaning crumbs or fragments and indeed a true Gazpacho is still blended with stale bread which gives a distinctive thick texture.
Much later on in the 15th Century, after the New World crops were introduced from the Americas to Europe, peppers and tomatoes were introduced to the dish and it has changed little since then.
The odd additions of herbs, perhaps Basil or Parsley, a dash of Tabasco here, some Cayenne Pepper there, or perhaps the soup being strained to produce a fine broth are the most common modifications to the soup. There is also a white Gazpacho, Ajo Blanco, which is made with blended almonds, garlic and the ever-traditional bread and olive oil, not to mention restaurants turning the dish into something altogether more expensive and glamorous. I don't use garlic in my version although some do, I find the flavour too distracting from the cleanliness of the other ingredients.
I do add some chilli for a little heat, celery because I love the herbal quality it gives to the dish and sometimes a can of tomatoes if the fresh ones are a little peaky or bland (which they often are over here) and it makes the soup go further. I don’t sieve my soup because I find it more substantial served chunky but feel free to strain if you wish.
But, remembering that this is a traditional peasant dish (which far from being a derogatory term, reflects the inventiveness that comes with frugality), it is a wonderful way to use up tomatoes that are a bit past their use-by date, peppers that are looking shrivelled and bread that not even the dog will touch. The one proviso is that you use the best quality extra virgin olive oil that you have in the kitchen – bad olive oil will flavour the soup in a most unfavourable manner.
So, bearing in mind that old Spanish saying, “There is never too much Gazpacho”, here is the recipe:
GAZPACHO – serves 6
Ingredients:
6 Good Quality Tomatoes, skinned but not seeded, plus extra cut into tiny dish for decoration
1 Green Pepper, cut into rough chunks (or red or yellow or orange)
2 Green Chillis (more if you want extra heat, deseed the chillis if you want less, otherwise, just throw them in whole)
Cup Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Sticks Celery (optional), cut into quarters
1 Can Tomatoes if your fresh tomatoes are a little wishy-washy
Slice of Stale White Bread
Quarter of a Cucumber, cut into chunks, plus extra cut into tiny dice for decoration
Salt and Pepper
METHOD:
Make a cross in the top of each fresh tomato, place in a large jug and cover with boiling water for a minute or two. The skin will start to peel away from the cross you made and then you should be able to peel them.
Place the peeled tomatoes in a food processor and blitz until they form a chunky puree, about 20 seconds.
Then add all the other ingredients gradually, in large chunks, with the processor running. You might need to add the olive oil halfway through if the ingredients start looking a little too thick. You might also find you want more than a cupful of oil or a little less, depending on what texture you like.
Taste the soup, season (it will take quite a lot of salt), add more chilli if you want more heat, more olive oil, or the can of tomatoes if you feel it needs it. Remember that the flavours will enhance the longer you leave it to chill.
Decant into a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill for several hours.
Ladle into large bowls and sprinkle with the chopped cucumber and tomato and a drizzle of olive oil.
Enjoy!

20 comments:

Mar Calpena said...

Hi, I've just recently discovered your blog and as a Spaniard I thought I might add my two cents. As you already mentioned, celery and chiles are non-canon, but make a nice addition. Also, in Spain gazpacho is usually served with small cups of diced green pepper, tomato, cucumber croutons and hard-boiled eggs, which make it so much fun to eat when you are kid. A lot of people add a splash of vinegar at the end, and I suggest you try that too...
Gazpacho is so popular over here that it's sold in cartons (both one serving and one litre) in supermarkets, and some brands have up to three varieties of them. Ferran Adria used to sponsor Kaiku, which aside from the regular brand had a creamier one laced with maionnaise. It was nice but I don't think it did well.
As for cold soups, there's also gazpacho's cousin, salmorejo, which hails from Cordoba and is essentially a creamier version of the same dish, almost a pure.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love that kind of dish! Your gazpacho looks very tasty and refreshing...

Kiriel du Papillon said...

I love a good gazpacho; yours sounds great. I made some myself recently, and served it with a scoop of home-made avocado icecream. Mind you, now I have half a litre of avocado icecream left... guess I better make more soup eh?

Lydia said...

I've just come home from the farmstand with a bunch of beautiful tomatoes and a plan to make gazpacho! I always add a splash of balsamic vinegar to mine, and I like to leave it a bit chunky, which I know is not traditional.

Kelly-Jane said...

I was a bit traumatised by gazpacho once, I was given a lefover salad by a friend to turn into a soup, it was really awful.

I must be getting over it now though - would give yours a go!

lululu said...

I've never tried cold cold cold soup before. I'm now so tempted to tried you gazpacho.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Yummy! My hubby makes a mean gazpacho
and he puts all the toppings on that mar calpena mentioned. I also love salmorejo and have you tried romesco sauce with leeks cooked on the bbq? Now I've gone into a trance. Thank goodness we're heading to Spain soon.

T.W. Barritt said...

I was at a fairly nice restaurant last week and orderd gazpacho - would you believe it was a couple of tiny slices of tomato and a chunk or two of crab submerged in a clear pinkish broth that they dubbed "tomato water???" I couldn't believe it. Yours sounds superior.

Aimée said...

Can you believe it's cold and drizzly over here? I'm more in the mood for hot cocoa, but thanks for reminding me what summer should be all about...:)

candy said...

the first time i had gazpacho was at the denver art museum probably 15 years ago & it was way more chunky than any recipe i've seen. your recipe sounds great, maybe i'll try it with extra chunks :)

Deborah Dowd said...

With our tomatoes ripening, I now have a recipe to make my own gazpacho! I love the taste with all the fresh ingredients fighting each other for attention! THanks for sharing your recipe!

ann said...

The Spanish are correct, there can never be too much gazpacho! Personally I prefer the Ajo Blanco. The creaminess imparted by the almonds is a revelation! Perhaps I should give the red stuff another chance...

wheresmymind said...

mmm...That looks good, it looks really smooth :)

Cottage Smallholder said...

Excellent. This sound good. Great idea to leave it chunkier. When the weather gets a little warmer I will try this. I am wrapped around the heater as I write this comment.

On the cold soup front, how about vichyssoise?

dynagrrl said...

I just wanted to say that I really love your blog! And the gazpacho... never been a huge fan, but that looks amazing and might be a go this weekend... thanks for the ideas!!!

joey said...

Never too much gazpacho is right! I love it, and there is nothing like it when the summer heat is blazing down at you :) Perfection!

sher said...

I need to make some of this. It's so hot, but we have wonderful tomatoes. So, why haven't I made gazpacho? :):) Yours looks wonderful.

Margaret said...

If we ever get any sunshine and if it was possible to ever get any decent tomatoes, then I would give this a go. It looks absolutely delicious.

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I just posted my own gazpacho~ a little more quick and easy than yours. (probably not better=D)

This is the perfect time of year for a chilled bowl~ I'll try your recipe next.

christine (myplateoryours) said...

I've been having all kinds of fruit gazpacho lately. Watermelon with garlic, cucumber, lime and chiles. Or more tropical, with mango, papaya, pineapple and chiles. Plus cucumber, onions, and other good stuff. Not authentic, maybe, but marvelously cooling on a hot day.