Spanish Gazpacho - Cold Soup Perfect for a Hot Day!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new recipe here. For the past several months, we have been in the throws of selling our house and moving. I have moved many times in my life (25 including this past one), and can tell you, moving is a very disruptive process. This move in particular has been the most disruptive I have done and it really unsettled the rhythms of our lives.
This blog is not meant to be my daily diary. However, as big things go on, you may find me discussing them and providing insight into my world. For those that don’t care for that part of the blog, feel free to jump to the recipe below. For the rest of you, I will get to the recipe, and I promise there is a tie in with my narrative.
The Elegant Baker and I share between us four young adults that are just emerging into the world on their own. We are a ‘blended family’ and for the last ten-ish years, we have lived in a very large home that had room for all of the kids to grow. But the youngest one left for college a year ago this time, and we no longer needed the ginormous house -- time to downsized.
To that end, last summer we put our house on the market, with the expectation that after the youngest left for school, we would move. It was an agonizing summer, and we ‘sold’ the house FOUR times. For various reasons, none of the deals closed, and at the end of the summer, we still had the house. We didn’t want to be selling through the fall and winter, so we took it off the market.
Fast forward to this spring. With a different realtor, we put the house on the market again, and “sold” it again. Unlike last year, we actually closed the deal. There were numerous anxious moments - “Will the home inspection go well?” (it did) “Will the appraisal be good?“ (it was) Will they get a mortgage?” (they did).
About a month ago, we closed, and moved into a new condo. We are still in the Boston area, but about 30 minutes from where we were before.
Our new home is much smaller,which is what we want. But that has increased the “disruptive factor” of this move significantly. We spent weeks purging and shedding stuff we no longer needed in order to get our house ready to show. Once we had an agreement, we spent more time eliminating stuff and packing. Fortunately, most of the “stuff” we shed we were able to either sell or donate. Very little went to the curb.
Even with all of our downsizing of “stuff” we still feel like we moved with a lot, mostly because we’ve spent the past few weeks unpacking and setting up our new home. It’s taken a while, and there is still more to do, but we are back at a place finally where the disruption is no longer all consuming.
A nice part of moving is discovering our new town and we’ve just begun to explore. One of our first stops was the local Farmers’ Market. Visiting for the first time in late summer is just about perfect here in New England. It seems like everything is a peak season -- but nothing ‘peaker’ than the tomatoes. I grabbed some tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers with an eye toward making my absolute favorite summer treat -- gazpacho.
Gazpacho is a soup traditionally from Spain made with fresh vegetables and served cold. It is wonderfully refreshing on one of those blistering hot late summer days, cooling and satisfying at the same time. Thanks to modern grocery stores, you can make gazpacho year round. But it is at its most outstanding when using garden fresh veggies at the peak of the season. My new Farmers’ Market was the perfect source for my soon to be gazpacho!
There are two keys to making great gazpacho. The first is the freshest vegetables you can get. The second is to use the best sherry vinegar you can get your hands on.
Fresh vegetable is easiest in the peak of harvest season. Back yard gardens, Farmers’ Markets, local farm stands will all be teeming with the key ingredients -- tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from late July to early September. This is the absolute best time for Gazpacho so find large, juicy tomatoes, big sweet peppers and fresh cucumbers. Just be sure that the cucumber isn’t bitter or it will throw the whole soup off.
The sweet acidic kick that a good sherry vinegar brings to gazpacho will brighten up the flavor, and take it from merely good to great. I have tried several sherry vinegars, but the one I use is made by “O Olive Oils”. The “O” sherry vinegar originates in California, but I find it offers the best balance of cost and quality.
I always have a bottle on hand in my cupboard because I use it in a variety of places as a finishing touch, and it works well in the recipe below. I can find it at my local Whole Foods, and it is available of course on Amazon.
Some of the thickening power in the gazpacho comes from a piece of bread that is included. I try to use a nice, crusty artisanal bread, but that isn’t always necessary. Other choices are a piece of a good French or Italian loaf, but today, I used a hot dog roll left over from another meal. The key is that it isn’t completely stale, but it doesn’t have to be super fresh.
Of course there are traditional methods for preparing the vegetables that were used for eons before the advent of the food processor. But we have access to the food processor, so I toss all of my ingredients in the food processor, and let it do the hard work. You want to process the gazpacho until there are no recognizable chunks of any veggies left, but there is still a thick, creamy consistency. You do not want to get too watery.
Once your gazpacho is done in the food processor, transfer to a mason jar or large bowl and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour to chill. It will keep for up to a week -- but I bet after you try it, that it will not last that long.
The refreshing goodness of a good gazpacho really is a late summer treat and should not be missed! Our new Farmers’s Market in our new town was the perfect starting place for our first gazpacho in the new home!
1 piece bread about 4 - 6 inches long
2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 6 - 8 pieces each
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into several large chunks
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 6 - 8 pieces
1 cucumber, about 6 - 8 inches long, completely peeled and cut into 6 - 8 pieces
½ large onion, cut into 6 - 8 wedges
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp sweet smoked paprika (optional)
kosher salt to taste
1 cup (approx) of extra virgin olive oil
2 - 3 TBL sherry vinegar (to taste)
In a small bowl of water, soak the bread until it is completely wet. Remove the bread from the water, and squeeze out all the water you can.
Add the bread, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, cucumber, onion, cumin and paprika to the work bowl of a food processor or blender.
Run the food processor or blender on the highest speed to chop and combine all the ingredients.
Process until there are no visible chunks of any vegetable
With the processor/blender running, slowly stream in the olive oil until you get the desired consistency
Add about half of the sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and run the processor/blender briefly to combine.
Taste the gazpacho, and add more sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to achieve the taste you like
Place gazpacho in a mason jar or bowl and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.