As old as the hills, gazpacho has its roots in the southern city of Andalusia, Spain. Originating amongst the peasants (as all good food does) laboring in vineyards, citrus groves, and olive plantations, gazpacho was concocted with “on hand” ingredients… Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, week old bread, oil, garlic and salt… Served cold.
A Spanish refrain says, “De gazpacho no hay empacho”-there is never enough gazpacho. Ain’t that the truth! In the midst of the dog days of summer, there is a sea of tomatoes at the farmers markets and all I could think about was gazpacho this week. Truth be told, I’ve never actually made gazpacho. I called about five restaurants in Paris to see if they had gazpacho and to my surprise, no one did. So, I decided this would be the week to make our own homemade gazpacho. Mission accomplished. I now have an entire freezer filled with a winter’s worth of gazpacho.
Gazpacho is a no-brainer but there are some tips to make it the best:
• Week old bread is the best to use
• Just because this is considered a cold soup, that doesn’t mean it should be served icy cold. Cool room temperature is best.
• Use the ripest, freshest tomatoes you can find and don’t refrigerate them.
• Let the flavors have some time to blend. Best to make the soup in the morning.
• Add a dollop of fresh crab to finish.
• Make your own garlicky, herbed croutons to finish
As usual, I have a few recipes to share. The first comes from my friend, Heather, from Lost in Arles blog. Heather and her husband have planted oodles of tomatoes in their Provence garden and she has shared her gazpacho recipe with us…
Heather's Gazpacho Recipe...
"Core and rough chop four to five big 'ol tomatoes and transfer into a bowl - leave the juices on the board. Rip up two good sized pieces of preferably day-old bread without the crusts (I also use those dry mini apero toasts for bulk). Transfer the tomatoes into the food processor (I like thick style, if you don't then of course use your blender), put the bread in the tomato bowl and transfer tomato juices on top, mix and let sit.
While the juice is softening the bread, peel and rough chop 2 medium cucumbers, either 1 big shallot or 1 red onion and the garlic (your call, as I am a garholic I use 4-5!). Add the soaked bread and pulse with the tomatoes until it is porridge - not too much. Then add the cukes, shallot/onion, garlic and 2-3 tablespoons Xeres vinager (or you could do one red wine and one balsalmic), salt (I like coarse for this) and a liberal dose of Worchestire - blend until mixed. Then, keeping it running on low, add in 1/2 cup of olive oil until incorporated. Taste and adjust, scrape down the sides and then turn it up and let it mix on high until you are happy with it. Put in the fridge - hopefully overnight - and add whatever strikes your fancy for the presentation but I like just a bit of mint and maybe and extra swirl of olive oil. I know that other traditional recipes call for red pepper, which I love but for me it makes it too acidic." -Heather
Now that we have the basic gazpacho recipe down let’s kick it up a notch…