Gazpacho


Gazpacho is a celebration of summer. 

 

If you're not yet familiar with the dish, here it is in a nut shell: gazpacho is a cold soup that originated in the Andalucía region of Spain, and is typically made by blending fresh, raw vegetables and stale bread.

While this version foregoes the bread, it retains all the incredible flavor, combining the freshest produce with garlic, heat, acidity and lots of good olive oil.  What you get is a dish that satisfies even on the hottest of days when the thought of eating, let alone turning on your stove, seems out of the question.

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From July until the time fresh tomatoes disappear from the farmer's market, I keep a batch of this soup in my fridge at all times.  Why?  Because it's creamy, tangy, requires 8 simple ingredients, takes 30 minutes or less to make, keeps in the fridge and travels well.  What more could you ask for out of one simple dish?  Serve gazpacho as a perfect summer appetizer, or make it a meal paired with crispy, warm bread and topped with avocado, diced cherry tomatoes, scallions, and a nice dollop of crème fraîche.  Take it on the go easily in a mason jar.  The key here is remembering that while food does not require complexity to be great, a dish is still the sum of it's parts, so do not skimp on the ingredients.  Get the best tomatoes and olive oil you can find, and I promise, you will not be disappointed.

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Gazpacho

  • 4 large in-season tomatoes, if possible

  • 1 extra large cucumber, or 2 small

  • 1 large sweet red or orange pepper

  • 1 large jalapeño

  • 2 large fresh garlic cloves

  • 2 tbsp's of red wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp sea salt, then add salt to taste

  • 3 generous tbsp's of good quality E.V.O.O.

  • Optional: top with a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche, or avocado

Start a pot on high heat and bring it up to boiling.  Drop in your tomatoes and let them boil for 3-5 minutes, or until the skin is peeling back from the tomatoes all over.  Then turn the heat off, drain the tomatoes and run them under cold water until cool enough to touch.  Then peel the skin off of the tomatoes and drop them into the bowl of your blender.  Next, peel the skin off of the cucumber, cut it into rounds and then again into half rounds.  While not essential, you can also remove the cucumber seeds if you want, using a small spoon or paring knife.  You can also opt to leave the skin on your cucumbers for even less work, but the texture is much smoother and creamier with the skin off.  Add your cucumber to the blender.

Next, you can use one of two methods to prepare your garlic: remove the garlic cloves from the skin and crush using a garlic press, or SAFELY lay your chef’s knife flat on top of the garlic clove and hit it with the heel of your hand until the skin comes loose and the garlic clove is slightly mashed.  Toss garlic into the blender. 

Then cut your sweet pepper and jalapeño loosely into medium size pieces, removing the seeds from both.  Add to the blender, and finally, add your salt and red wine vinegar.  Now you can blend, and as the ingredients come together into a puree, start pouring in your olive oil.  I find that adding the olive oil while the blender is running adds to a more full, creamy soup.  Once all your olive oil is added and the soup is a smooth consistency, you can taste and adjust the seasoning.  I personally like a bit more salt, so add, blend and taste until it's where you want it.  You can also add more vinegar for extra acidity and more olive oil for extra body.  If you plan to serve immediately, blend in a few ice cubes to chill your soup.  You can also chill for an hour and then serve, or put in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

When serving, this soup comes alive with the texture of toppings.  Crispy croutons, creamy additions, little sweet cherry tomatoes, a scoop of fresh guacamole.  Or do it my way - with sliced avocado, chopped chives or scallions, freshly ground pepper, sea salt and another drizzle of that extra good olive oil.