I have to say, gazpacho is one of my all time favorite dishes. That beautiful flavor of a ripe, summer tomato married with a touch of sherry, a great olive oil and the right accompaniments is something pretty special. And while I love a good chunky version, I also really enjoy the forthy, smooth version. I can’t imagine anything much better on a hot summer day.
I could probably post 10 different recipes for this summer soup, but Jose Andrès really inpsired me with his, which I had recently at his restaurant, Jaleo, in Washington DC. I did my best to replicate his flavors and I’d say it came out beautifully!
So now that tomatoes are finally in season, give this one a try – either as a main dish with some crusty bread on the side and perhaps a salad, or as a first course for a meal of BBQ. It’s also a great thing to serve in shot glasses at a large party – they can easily be passed or left on a table for people to pick up and enjoy without flatware.
3 pounds fresh tomatoes (choose the best available – heirloom, green, plum, etc.)
1 1/2 cucumbers (~12 oz)
1 green bell pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup of good quality olive oil (preferably Spanish)
salt to taste
Prep your ingredients first. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the core (from where the stem joined the tomato) and cut in quarters. Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds by using a spoon. Cut into rough chunks. Halve the bell pepper and remove the stem area, the seeds and veins. Chop into rough chunks.
You will next blend all the ingredients in a blender. (Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to do this in two batches…If so, add half of the ingredients at a time, then pour the pureed mixture into a large pitcher or bowl.) Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, garlic and sherry vinegar in the blender. Blend until very smooth (tomatoes will turn pink and frothy). Taste for balance (depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes, you may need more vinegar to strike the right balance on acidity), adding a touch more vinegar if necessary.
Add the olive oil and blend again, then taste and season with salt to taste. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Place into the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour. While the soup is chilling, prepare the garnishes.
french bread for croutons
1 cup red or mixed color cherry tomatoes
To prepare the garnishes, start with the croutons. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the bread into slices about 1/2″ thick, then cut into small cubes 1/2″ square or smaller to make about 1 cup of cubes. On a baking sheet, pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil on a baking sheet, and toss the bread cubes with the olive oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, and place in the oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes, checking frequently. Cubes should be crisp and lightly browned. Remove from oven when done and allow to cool slightly, then move to a plate lined with paper towels to finish cooling.
Cut the cherry tomatoes into small dice, approximately the same size os your croutons. Peel and seed the 1/2 cucumber, and cut into the same sized dice. Chop the chives into small pieces.
To assemble, you can either put the garnishes in the bottom of a wide bowl and pour the gazpacho from a decorative pitcher in front of your guests (dramatic!) or ladle the soup into bowls, and top with the garnishes in the center, then serve. Either way, pour small dots of the olive oil over the garnish.
Enjoy the beautiful, gorgeous soup!