I first heard about gazpacho back in the late 80s, while watching a hysterically funny subtitled movie from Spain entitled Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (ladies, Antonio Banderas is in it!) ;-). It seems they were always drinking and eating the stuff, and they made it look really delicious. It was not long after then that I found a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated and after trying a few different recipes, decided that was my favorite—with just a little bit of adjusting.
I would make a batch every summer, when my garden was producing loads of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. It’s the most refreshing, delicious way to drink your veggies: much healthier than juice because you’re getting little more than a variety of fresh, wholesome raw vegetables (organic, especially if you grow your own) with the fiber included. Every time I’d serve it to friends they would say they’d never heard of it before, but they all loved it. They would then ask for the recipe, which I was always happy to share.
It wasn’t until I lived in a suburban neighborhood with one block party, pot luck or picnic after another that I realized gazpacho would be a great side dish to bring. I mean, really, how many more bowls of potato, macaroni or fruit salad does one need? NO ONE thinks of bringing gazpacho and so far it’s been a huge hit. I usually put it in a Rubbermaid pitcher with a lid, or a soup thermos and throw in some ice cubes to keep it chilled. The soup can just be poured into plastic cups (don’t forget spoons). Nothing can be easier to serve! And you don’t have to worry about it going bad (translation: no mayo) if it’s warm out. Since it’s more of a first course, it usually disappears quickly anyway. There are rarely any leftovers and everyone ends up loving it (even kids) and asking for… surprise!… the recipe. I also get the personal satisfaction of sneaking in something that’s so healthy at gatherings where the norm is hot dogs, chips, carb-loaded salads and too many sweets.
SO, here’s my recipe. I happen to LOVE cutting up vegetables (it’s my Zen activity) so I do all of mine by hand, but if you’re not as wacky as I am you can use a food processor or even a hand chopper (such as something like this OXO chopper ). The goal is to chop the fresh veggies into small enough pieces so that they can be swallowed easily (without the necessity for chewing) but big enough so that there is a nice texture and some “tooth” to the soup that can be chewed if so inclined. I usually bring along a few cups filled with toppings (my favorite is avocado) so people can dress up their soup to their taste.
Yum! Summer in a cup! Make some gazpacho soon and send your admirers here for the recipe!
Gazpacho (cold vegetable soup)
Caution: Will cause cravings!
- 1.5 pounds ripe tomatoes diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
- 2 medium bell peppers,1 each red & green diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
- 2 small cucumbers diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
- 1/2 medium sweet red onion diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
- 2 medium garlic cloves pressed or minced
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar I prefer Braggs, unfiltered and raw
- 1/8 cup sherry (cooking wine is fine)
- to taste ground black pepper
- 5 cups vegetable juice V8 organic is great
- 1 tsp hot pepper sauce Sriracha or other types - optional
- olive oil extra virgin, drizzle when serving
- Combine tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar, sherry and pepper in a large non-reactive bowl. Let stand until vegetables begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vegetable juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, 1 day preferable.
- Adjust seasonings and drizzle about 1 tsp olive oil per serving. Serve cold with any combination of toppings: croutons, olives, chopped hardboiled eggs, diced avocados, parsley... or ?? your choice.