Gail Blakely

Recipes for gazpacho are as varied as those for kale soup. It pretty much depends on who is making it, and what vegetables are available. Regardless of how it is made, a bowl of chilled gazpacho is a refreshing and healthy way to enjoy our local summer bounty.

By definition, gazpacho is made from chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, oil and vinegar. It hails from Andalusia, a region of Spain, which was primarily an agricultural area. Farmers were given a certain amount of bread and oil, and they combined these rations with their crops, to create a cold soup that was refreshing when working in hot fields.

You can add bell peppers as well, or some melon if you want a fruity undertone. Want a spicier soup? Add some jalapenos. Prefer a thicker texture? Add some day-old bread when you are pureeing the mixture. Traditionally, gazpacho was made by pounding vegetables with a mortar and pestle; today, we rely on our food processors or blenders.

Garnishes for the bowl of cold soup vary: chilled cooked shrimp or lobster, or even crab may be served on top. Some of the actual vegetables used in preparing the soup may be chopped and set aside, to be sprinkled on top just before serving. Hard-boiled eggs and chopped ham are often added in Spain, as are chopped almonds, or toasted cumin seeds crushed with mint.

Ina Garten prefers the addition of Sacramento tomato juice. She suggests that the flavors develop the longer the soup sits in the refrigerator, so plan on making it at least eight hours ahead of serving.

Vegetable Gazpacho

(from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten)

2 hothouse cucumbers, halved and seeded, but not peeled

3 red bell peppers, cored and seeded

8 plum tomatoes

2 red onions

6 garlic cloves, minced

46 ounces tomato juice (c. 6 cups)

½ cup each: white wine vinegar and good olive oil

1 TBSP kosher salt

1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped—do not overprocess! After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving; the longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Years ago I helped put together a fundraising cookbook for Independence House in Hyannis. At the end, we added a section of recipes from food professionals. Ellen Mycock, who at the time owned the Moonakis Café in Waquoit, gave me her recipe, which I still use.

“Take one English cucumber and peel it, then cut it into one-inch chunks; seed one green and one red bell pepper and cut them into chunks. Peel and cut up one small red onion; cut off the top ends of two carrots and only peel them if you can’t help yourself; cut them into chunks as well. Mince three cloves of garlic in a food processor, and then finely chop the rest of the vegetables in the processor as well. Throw in three one-pound cans of unsalted tomatoes and one six-ounce can of V-8 juice.

“I usually do the garlic with the onion and transfer it to a large jar. Then I do the cucumbers and peppers—you want to be able to tell what they are, but no one wants a big chunk in their bowl. This should look like chopped salsa. Puree the tomatoes last, add the V-8 and stir. Then add pretty much to taste: red wine or sherry vinegar (about 3 TBSP), olive oil (about 3 TBSP), freshly ground black pepper, Tabasco (about 8 dashes), Worcestershire sauce (start with a tsp), and give it all a good stir. Refrigerate it for an hour and taste it—add a little more of whatever you think it needs!

“This is a great soup to have leftover in your refrigerator. It’s light, thinning, and improves with age. Plus, you’re eating all your vegetables without having to fuss with anything. I love to have this hanging around when it’s too hot to think, let alone cook.”

My Gazpacho

adapted from epicurious.com

3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 3 cups)

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 2 cups)

1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 medium onion, chopped (about 11⁄4 cups)

3 cups canned tomato juice

2 TBSP fresh herbs (such as tarragon, thyme, or parsley), chopped

1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 TBSP tomato paste

Juice of 1⁄2 lemon

Kosher salt

Cayenne pepper

1 cup croutons, to garnish

1. In a bowl, reserve 2 TBSP each of the tomato, cucumber, pepper, and onion to garnish.

2. In the food processor or blender, purée the remaining ingredients (except the croutons) until smooth, adjusting the seasoning to taste with lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper.

3. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. Adjust the consistency as desired with water. Serve in chilled bowls garnished with the reserved vegetables and croutons.

Gazpacho doesn’t always have to be red. I have enjoyed a white gazpacho, which is made from blanched almonds and green grapes. Try this one for a change of pace.

White Gazpacho

2 cups of crustless stale bread, broken into pieces

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (use vegetable stock for vegan or vegetarian version)

1 ½ tsp salt

1 cup slivered blanched almonds

2 cups green seedless grapes, sliced in half

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

1-3 chopped garlic cloves (depending on how garlicky you want the result to be)

2-3 TBSP sherry vinegar or cider vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Chives for garnish

In a saucepan, heat the stock until it’s steamy; turn off the heat and add the broken-up pieces of stale bread. Stir well, then let the mixture cool. Put the almonds, salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are pulverized. Add the soaked bread and any stock that was not absorbed by the bread into the food processor, then add the grapes and cucumbers; pulse until the mixture is a rough purée. Add 2 TBSP of the vinegar and pulse a few seconds to combine; taste and add the other TBSP if it needs it–grapes can sometimes be acidic enough to leave out the final TBSP of vinegar. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil; turn off the machine and taste the gazpacho, adding more salt if needed. Chill before serving in bowls, garnished with chopped chives.

And then there’s a green gazpacho which was featured on “The Splendid Table” website. This is a delicious version, which you can make as spicy as you wish by adjusting the amount of jalapeño pepper. The fried almonds, which are used as a garnish, really take this version to the next level.

Green Gazpacho

(from Onions, Etcetera by Kate Winslow and Guy Ambrosino)

4 scallions, coarsely chopped

1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

½ to 1 jalapeño, chopped

1 plump garlic clove, chopped

1 cup water

¾ tsp ground cumin

Kosher salt

3 cups spinach leaves

½ cup cilantro leaves

4 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP sherry vinegar

1⁄3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

Combine the scallions, bell pepper, cucumber, jalapeño, garlic, water, ½ tsp cumin and ½ tsp salt in a blender. Pulse until the ingredients are almost smooth. Add the spinach, cilantro, 2 TBSP olive oil and the vinegar; blend until the mixture is very smooth, adding a drop or two of water if necessary to thin the soup. Taste and adjust the seasonings; refrigerate until very cold.

Heat the remaining 2 TBSP olive oil in a small skillet over moderate heat; add the almonds and the remaining ¼ tsp cumin and fry, stirring frequently, until almonds are golden brown and nutty smelling, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to a paper towel–lined plate to cool; season with the remaining salt. Serve the gazpacho garnished with some of the fried almonds.

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