it’s tomato season! that, and our national heat wave, makes me think of delicious and refreshing gazpacho. i can’t remember how old i was (probably early teens?) when i first learned of cold soup. i was with my dad in nyc during an especially hot summer, and gazpacho was on the menu. he told me that it can vary depending on the freshness of the tomatoes, ingredients used, and done wrong will just taste like salsa, or worse, like cold campbell’s soup. i was intrigued. i ordered it, and it was amazing.

as a cook’s illustrated recipe tester, i made their authentic spanish gazpacho last year and fell in love with the recipe. it reminded me of that first time. they have adjusted it a bit from the test version, and it can be found on the america’s test kitchen website as creamy gazpacho andaluz. there is also a video.

i have made a couple of minor changes:

ingredients:

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
  • 1 medium green pepper (i used a sweet hungarian this time, which is white in color, and like a milder green pepper, but depending on your taste any type of bell pepper will work.)
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small serrano chile, stemmed, halved lengthwise (and seeded if you don’t want as much heat.)
  • 2 tbsp hanapepe salt (i prefer the smokiness of hanapepe, but pink hawaiian or sea salt are good substitutes.)
  • 1 slice high-quality sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp finely minced parsley, cilantro, chives or basil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • avocado, sliced thin for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish

roughly chop 2 pounds of the tomatoes, half of the cucumber, half of the bell pepper, and half of the onion. put them in a large bowl with the garlic, chile and 1 1/2 tbsp of the salt. toss until mixed well. set aside.

cut up the remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper into 1/4 inch dice. mince the remaining onion and add to the diced vegetables. toss them with 1/2 tbsp of salt and transfer to a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl to collect the juices. set aside for 1 hour.

transfer drained diced veggies to a medium bowl and set aside. add the bread pieces to the exuded liquid and let soak for 1 minute. add the soaked bread and any remaining juice to the rough chopped veggies. toss to combine.

transfer 1/2 the veggie-bread mixture to a blender, or food processor, and process for about 30 seconds. then, while blending, slowly drizzle 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the mixture. strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, or container you are able to cover. using a rubber spatula press the soup through the strainer, until you are basically left with any left over veggie chunks or skin, and discard.

repeat with the remaining veggie-bread mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil. stir in the vinegar, minced herb, and 3/4 of the diced veggies. season to taste with more salt if needed, and black pepper.

cover and refrigerate preferably overnight (or at least 2 hours) to allow the soup to chill completely, and let the flavors develop. serve with remaining diced veggies, avocado, and sour cream as garnish.

i have had bad gazpacho, but nothing as bad as cold campbell’s soup. though, i have to wonder if you have good ingredients and a good recipe, how can it be bad? really.

enjoy!

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