I spent the weekend indoors in a course room, training and celebrating bold leaders for Landmark Education. Back home on Monday morning when I inspected the tomato, pepper and cucumber plants growing on my deck after three days, I was delighted to find that they had, in my absence, produced an abundance of ripe produce eagerly awaiting my appearance.
That seemed only fair, Fellow FoodBeest, because for weeks, I had been eagerly awaiting their appearance. Turnabout is fair play. Even with vegetables, don’t you think?
Most of the gazpacho we eat is spicy and Mexican in style, but gazpacho originated in Andalucía in southern Spain. Like the Mexican-style gazpacho with which we are most familiar, it is an uncooked tomato-based vegetable soup served cold. Unlike Mexican gazpachos, this Spanish version incorporates bread, olive oil, wine vinegar and sugar. It is not especially spicy, but is almost like a liquid summer vegetable salad.
I love gazpacho, Fellow FoodBeest, but I would never make it without the freshest seasonal ingredients. If you try to use the usual packaged tomatoes found at your supermarket, your soup will be red, but that’s all it will have in common with real gazpacho. It’s not necessary to grow your own this time of year, but it is especially satisfying if you are growing your own produce and suddenly find yourself with an abundance of summer produce like I did this morning.
What You Need to Make Spanish Gazpacho
3 slices day old French bread, crusts removed
1 lb. medium vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled(*}, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large English or Japanese cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic cloves, chopped
2 C mixed vegetable juice (like V-8)
1 T sugar
1 t smoked Spanish paprika
½ t ground cumin
½ t cayenne
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ C sherry wine vinegar
½ C extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish olive oil highly recommended)
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
½ lemon, juiced
(*) To peel tomatoes in a snap, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Carefully drop tomatoes in for 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon. Put in a strainer or colander under cool water until they are cool enough to pick up. Now all you have to do is slit the skin with a knife and the skin will slip right off.
Chopped bell pepper
Chopped hard-cooked egg
How To Make Spanish Gazpacho
Soak the bread in 1 cup of water for 5-10 minutes, and then squeeze out the excess water. Place the bread and juice in a blender or food processor with the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Puree the ingredients until almost smooth, leaving a little texture. Mix in the mixed vegetable juice, sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, parsley, and lemon juice until well blended.
Pour into a large bowl or covered container. Refrigerate the soup for at least 2 hours until very well chilled; the flavors will develop as it sits chilling. Season the gazpacho again with salt and pepper before serving. Serve in chilled bowls or tureen and top with desired garnishes.