Tasty Tuesday: Gazpacho


It was a dark and stormy night…in the middle of the summer, actually. And I needed to figure out how to serve soup that didn’t make us all perish of hot clamminess as we watched the violent thunderstorm from the safety of the front porch. Fortunately, I have fond memories of eating a cold soup when I was a kid, so off I went in search of recipes for Gazpacho. (Gazpacho is pronounced guh-zspa-cho.)

Gazpacho as we know it originates historically in the Andalusian region of Spain. Actually, there are theories that it actually started in Arab regions and arrived in Spain many centuries ago. It’s still popular with field hands as a way to cool down from working in the fields under the hot sun.

This chilled vegetable soup has made its way around the world and taken on characteristics of whichever country it landed in. The recipe I ended up creating leans heavily towards the Latin American version of Gazpacho, complete with tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. There ARE other variations on flavor that are equally delicious. Many of the recipes include stale bread that is pureed into the vegetables as a thickener. I didn’t try that, mostly because I didn’t have stale bread.

I was very pleased with the way that this soup turned out. As you check out the recipe, please keep in mind that I was including veggies that I personally love to taste in a soup. It would be equally delicious to ditch the peppers and cilantro and use more celery and fresh basil to turn it in an Italian direction.  So here’s my version:

gazgoblet

Gazpacho

  • 5 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 4  green onions
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 bell pepper, grilled or roasted*
  • 1 anaheim pepper, grilled or roasted*
  • 1 poblano pepper, grilled or roasted *
  • 2 tomatillos, grilled or roasted*
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 cucumber (use more to mellow it if you accidentally include too many peppers)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 t. coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 1 t. cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 2 T. olive oil

Chop all the ingredients up coarsely. Put everything into a huge bowl to capture all the juices. You’ll be pureeing these items in a food processor, so the exact dimensions don’t matter much. In the ancient days, people used to use a mortar and pestle to grind the vegetables into a fine texture. (I SO appreciate living in modern times!)

gazp-chunky

Processing in batches, puree all the ingredients to a fairly smooth texture. I didn’t try for completely creamy smooth because I wanted a little bit of texture.

Place the pureed soup into a large bowl and cover. Let the flavors marry for a few hours. The flavors take on a whole new dimension the following day if you want to make this the day before serving it.

Now, if I lost you at “peppers, grilled or roasted,” let me take a moment to explain how to do that. I wash my peppers and tomatillos. I take the papery shells off the tomatillos and halve the peppers, removing the pith and seeds. Then I place them directly on a hot grill and grill them until the outside skins are just blackened.

peppersingrillbaskettomatillos-on-grill

I remove the peppers and tomatillos from the grill and place them immediately into a brown paper bag.

peppers-in-bag

I roll the bag shut and let it sit for awhile. When I take the peppers out of the bag, the blackened skins just peel right off. DON’T wash the peppers under running water as this will wash a lot of the smoky flavor right down the drain.

If you don’t want to grill the peppers, you can also roast them in the oven under the broiler until the skins blacken. For some reason, I tend to turn my peppers into charcoal much more quickly in the oven than on the grill. It’s hard to find a better food than smoky grilled peppers. Mmmmmmmm.

To serve, garnish the Gazpacho with a leaf of cilantro or a small dollop of sour cream and serve very cold. I actually had fun serving the Gazpacho as an appetizer in  wine goblets. I also set out a bowl of tortillas chips to munch on while sipping the Gazpacho.

gazready2serve

I served this chilly soup to several young kids who all seemed to like it. I think that if I had taken the Italian seasoning route instead of the pepper/cilantro route, they would have liked it even better. Pureeing really helped the kids with texture issues on the vegetables, which I thought was quite interesting.

Summer’s drawing to a close here and soon we won’t be dreaming of cold soups. For now, I’m thoroughly enjoying the flavors of my favorite produce!

Barb Kelley

.