Summer gazpacho

Just chill—it’s gazpacho

Originally appeared in the May 31, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

A few summers ago, I went through a phase where I couldn’t get enough gazpacho.  And while it may not have been an unhealthy habit, it certainly was an obsession.  For me there were so many attractive aspects to this cool concoction, not the least of which is the cool component.

Gazpacho is a chilled tomato-and-cucumber soup; but this is the version that most Americans are familiar with.  There are also celebrated varieties in Spain, including a white gazpacho made with almonds and grapes.

Traditionally, gazpacho contains some sort of bread.  In fact, it’s suggested in some culinary quarters that “pacho” derives from the Latin word pasti, meaning bread or dough.  It’s not uncommon to use day-old bread as a thickening agent in gazpacho; or the bread may be soaked in the soup-base before being strained or pureed.  For this particular interpretation, I’ve chosen to employ a garnish of toasted croutons to represent the bread.

Allow the flavors to truly mingle by chilling your gazpacho overnight.  This recipe makes about 1 ½ quarts, so you might consider using a pitcher for storage and service.  And the way this summer heat is rolling in, the refreshing chilled soup won’t last long.

Summer gazpacho                

Yields roughly 1 ½ quarts

  • 28 ounces peeled, diced tomatoes
  • ½ red onion, medium chop
  • 1 green bell pepper, small dice (divide and reserve half)
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice (divide and reserve half)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, small dice (divide and reserve half)
  • 2 – 3 plum tomatoes, seeded, small dice (divide and reserve half)
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, rough chop
  • 2 fluid ounces each: balsamic and red wine vinegar, and olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • To taste, cayenne pepper
  • 2 pinches crushed red pepper
  • 23 ounces tomato juice
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • Garnish: homemade croutons

1.  Pour peeled and diced tomatoes into a food processor or blender.  With the exception of the tomato juice and small-diced vegetables (bell peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes), add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.  Add in tomato juice (or more to achieve desired consistency).

2.  Adjust season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Transfer pureed soup into a storage container and stir in reserved diced pepper, cucumber, and tomato.  Refrigerate at least twelve hours before serving.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs and toasted croutons.

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