A couple of years ago, Bryan and I went to Spain with his family. We stayed in Marbella, a town in Andalusia that provided us with a good location from which to explore southern Spain. I completely fell in love with the region, especially the food. I ate gazpacho at least once a day for the entire week we were there and I never had a bad bowl of the stuff. Even the cartons of gazpacho that were sold at grocery stores were oddly satisfying. I came home vowing to continue to eat the cold tomato soup as often as possible—but like most plans made during travel, this one was never realized. In fact, I have gone through two tomato seasons without a drop of gazpacho. Not this year.
The technique is simple, puree a bunch of vegetables in a blender, chill, serve. The results are delicious, even if they don’t stand up to the experience of eating it on the beach in Spain. For the record, I don’t approve of the chunky stuff. It isn’t gazpacho to me. It always feels like eating salsa with a spoon. I like it smooth and topped with some diced cucumber, pepper and onion. Maybe some tiny croutons. Ingredients are key for this recipe. You want superb tomatoes, good bread and an olive oil you love. make this soon, because before you know it tomatoes will be gone and you’ll be waiting until next summer.
Gazpacho (adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen)
- 2 cups cubed day-old country bread, crusts removed
- 2 medium sized garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 small pinch ground cumin
- kosher salt
- 3 pounds ripest, most flavorful tomatoes possible, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium-size red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chilled spring water
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Place the bread in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and let set for 5-10 minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out extra liquid.
Place the garlic, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them to a paste.
Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, onion, soaked bread, and the garlic paste in a large bowl and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. Working in two batches, place the vegetable mixture in a food processor and process until smooth, adding half of the olive oil to each batch.Once each batch is finished, puree it finely in a blender, then transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
When all the gazpacho has been pureed, whisk in the spring water and vinegar. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt or vinegar as necessary. Refrigerate the gazpacho, covered, until chilled, about 2 hours.
Garnish gazpacho with chopped cucumber, pepper, onion or croutons, if desired.