Gazpacho is a famous soup that originated in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia. It's unique for three reasons - it's raw, it's served cold, and it requires the freshest of vegeables so summer is the only time to make it. This is the soup that I think about in the middle of winter because it embodies all the goodness of summer food in my mind.
I've seen recipes for gazpacho that start with tomato juice as the base, but I wanted to make one absolutely from scratch with nothing but produce from the farm stand that day. I found some beautiful Black Krim heirloom tomatoes (see my post from a few weeks back regarding heirlooms and black tomatoes in particular) that I knew would have great taste but I was a little worried that they would make the gazpacho look weird if used exclusively so I mixed them with normal red tomatoes.
This is definitely a time to haul out your food processor for all the chopping. It's a little messy but the recipe makes a lot of soup and it's so refreshing when it's hot out. You just feel healthier when you eat it and it would be a great way to sneak more vegetables into your family's diet without them realizing it.
We happened to have some goldfish crackers on hand so I had the inspiration for a garnish. Notice that my goldfish are swimming happily along (above). To no one's great surprise, The Lawyer had a different idea. He explained that the whales had driven the fish into a tight school and were taking turns driving up from the depths in the middle to feed so the fish were trying to get away. Apparently someone has been watching a little too much Planet Earth.
You could use herb croutons as a nice garnish instead but it won't be nearly as dramatic a story. Serve the soup with a crusty baguette for a light dinner or with a sandwich for something a little more substantial. This would also be an elegant first course for a summer party. However you choose to serve it, be aware that it needs to chill for at least an hour so it needs to be made in advance.
* * click here for a printable recipe * *
9 large vine-ripened tomatoes
2 medium cucumbers (or one English cucumber), peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and black pepper
Small basil or parsley leaves, or small crackers or croutons for garnish (optional)
Dip the tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds to loosen the skin, then place in ice water to cool. Core and peel the tomatoes, then cut in half and poke out the seeds and juice into a strainer set over a bowl. Reserve the juice and discard the seeds. Puree half of the tomatoes in a food processor or blender with half of the cucumbers, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Coarsely chop the remaining tomatoes.
Combine the puree with the chopped tomatoes and the remaining cucumbers, onion, pepper and jalapeno in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Taste again and adjust seasonings if needed.
Garnish with herbs, croutons or crackers if desired.