You say tomaydo, I say tomahhdo. You say tomaydo, I say Gazpacho.
For anyone unfamiliar with Gazpacho, it is a chilled summer soup made primarily of tomatoes with fresh veggies such as cucumbers, onions, garlic, and bell peppers. I refer to it as a “summer” soup because the flavors sing summertime, and I can’t imagine eating a cold bowl of soup in the dead of winter, not when you live in Cleveland. If you like soup and you love fresh crisp flavorful veggies, this is one you’ll want to try. Don’t be afraid of the whole cold soup theory. Seriously, I used to think it was weird until I tried it at a restaurant on a hot balmy day, and it was AHHH-MAZ-ING. So good in fact, I’ve taken to making my own.
I’m not gonna lie; Gazpacho is a labor of love. There’s nothing particular difficult about making it, but be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen with your knives. And if you haven’t by now, invest the money in a good knife or two. It will make all the difference, I promise. Good knives are quintessential for this dish because it involves a whole lot of dicing and mincing. You really want to chop things small, so you’re not trying to slurp up a giant hunk of bell pepper or onion. That would be awkward and messy. You could also bust out the food processor and let it do the majority of the work for you.
Cleveland has been caught up in a heat wave recently (100 degrees yesterday with a heat index of 110), and as a result I’ve had Gazpacho on the brain. I also had three perfect tomatoes, one beautiful cucumber, an onion and some scallions, all from our CSA share, just begging to be made into something magical. Hello, winner winner chicken dinner (or Gazpacho). It tastes even better when you run around the house all day repeating the name; I recommend whispering it ninja style, with an extra enunciation on the final syllable….Ga…Spa….CHO.
So, I awoke on Sunday, partially comatose because I foolishly choose to hang out in the ridiculous heat the day before, on more than one occasion. What can I say; I’m a glutton for punishment. So in my strange brain fog state, I did what anyone would do. I picked up a very sharp knife and got right to chopping. It took me longer than usual; instead of showcasing my crazy knife skills, I went slow and steady because while my brain wasn’t sharp, my knives still were. It seemed like the smarter route to take, and if it worked for the tortoise, far be it from me to argue. He always won his races and with all his digits intact; I like my fingers, and I’d like to keep them.
To make Gazpacho (official recipe below), you chop up onions, garlic, bell peppers, cucumbers, scallions, and tomatoes and throw it all in a big bowl. You add some seasoning, tomato juice, a bit of olive oil, a touch of vinegar (or white wine), and lime and lemon juice.
Since there is no actual cooking involved in this dish, you want to make sure to use the best ingredients possible. Stay away from anything which comes in a can. Use fresh produce and wait until it’s ripe and juicy. My tomatoes practically bled out on the cutting board. While my choice of words might be a tad graphic, they are definitely accurate.
I can only image what kind of crazies this post is going to garner using phrases like “knife skills,” “dicing and mincing,” and “bled out.” Oh well, if they are into clean eating maybe we could be friends….from a distance, a very far distance.
After you mix together your bowl of Gazpacho love, you throw it in the refrigerator because this soup should be eaten cold, not at room temperature. Believe me, you really want it chilled. Plus letting it sit in the fridge brings out all the flavors of the dish, and every time you open the fridge, you get wafts of pure summer loving.
Now, you can also puree the soup in blender for a smoother creamier consistency or you can leave it as is. If you blend it, do this step before refrigerating. I chose to blend the majority of the soup, but held just a little back. While creamy is a good thing, I like a little crispness, which you only get if you still have some untouched veggies.
I wish computers had smell-o-vision because if you could smell the flavors, you’d want to dive right in…peferably with a spoon. Yes I know I said the same thing when I blogged about peanut butter, but this is, in part, a food blog so there is going to be a lot of diving into things with utensils. You’ll have to adjust.
And because I couldn’t stop there, I whipped up a batch of homemade croutons to give the soup a little crunch. I’ve never made croutons before, and they were ridiculously easy. You take stale bread, season with salt, pepper, red pepper and some parmesan cheese and cook the whole thing in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Thank you Barefoot Contessa (I love this woman!). I actually had some stale Tomato Basil bread on hand, which I rarely every buy, and bread usually doesn’t stand a chance at getting stale in our house, but there you have it. Somebody wanted me to make Gazpacho this weekend with homemade croutons and far be it from me to ignore a food calling, especially one as good (and as healthy!) as this.
Now, I don’t think this needs to be said, but on the off-chance it does, don’t add your croutons to the big bowl of Gazpacho chilling in the fridge. Wait and add them when you sit down to eat a bowl, or else they will lose their crispy crunchy goodness.
- 4 cups Tomato Juice
- 2 cups freshly diced Tomatoes
- 1/2 Onion, minced
- 1 medium clove Garlic, minced
- 1 medium Bell Pepper, minced
- 1 tsp. Honey (optional)
- 1 medium Cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
- 2 Scallions, minced
- 1/2 Lemon, juice of
- 1 Lime, juice of
- 2 Tbsp. Wine Vinegar (I used white wine)
- 1 tsp. Tarragon
- 1 tsp. Basil
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Cumin
- 1/4 cup fresh Parsley, chopped
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Salt, Black Pepper and Cayenne – to taste
- Jalapeno, minced (optional)*
- Chop all ingredients (or use a food processor and pulse lightly).
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Optional: puree all or some of the ingredients in a blender. I generally puree about 2/3rds of the soup because I still like some texture remaining.
- Chill until very cold.
- If you like it spicy, you could also chop up and add a jalapeno or other hot pepper.