I wait all year for tomato season so I can make this delicious Spanish Gazpacho. There simply is no way around it: this chilled soup only works with fresh, perfectly ripe, summertime tomatoes.
Summers are for going to the beach, BBQs, picnics, hanging by the pool, visiting the neighborhood ice cream shop at least once a week (Tim is worried the woman who works there will soon know us by name! ?) and making delicious chilled soups that require no stove or oven.
But in reality, summers are for doing some of these things, but mostly it’s Olivia hanging by the AC 24/7, having nightmares about the electricity bill and regretting not getting a membership for the community pool.
However, this past Sunday we managed to gather the courage to face the 95 degree heat and went to our local park for the Farmer’s Market’s opening, which only happens during the summer.
We had some corn on the cob, some fancy lemonades with pieces of fruit in it and bought a bunch of fresh tomatoes, because that’s mostly what the fruit and vegetable stand had. I keep hoping I will see some figs, but so far nada. We even went to another city’s Farmer’s Market with no success. They said they will get me some for next week, so here’s on hoping, because I’ve been seriously craving my mom’s pasta with fresh figs and prosciutto!
Oh, you know what else happened on Sunday? We met the mayor of our town! ??? He was at the opening and approached us to shake our hands. I acted all cool, as if I knew who he was, but had to Google his name when he walked away, to then find out he is the mayor.
I just love this small town life. Things like that would never happen when we lived in Manhattan! Mayor De Blasio does not go around the city, approaching people and saying “Hi, I’m the mayor!”. He probably walks around with his security team and you don’t get to be within 10 feet from him.
But anyways… Back to the theme of this post: fresh tomatoes.
Yesterday I woke up and looked at all our recently acquired tomatoes, and decided I needed to make something with them ASAP, because I have a certain tendency to let produce go bad.
They were so perfectly ripe that there was only one option: Spanish Gazpacho.
This classic Spanish soup, who originated in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, is served cold and is the perfect light meal (or appetizer) for hot summer days.
If you ask 10 Spaniards how to make Spanish Gazpacho, you will get 10 different answers. They’ll disagree regarding the mixture of veggies, if bread should be included or not and, above all, the perfect consistency/texture. Answers will range from rustic and chunky to smooth and elegant. You will even find modern variations, often in different colors and omitting the tomatoes and bread in favor of fresh fruit, for example. Although I have a feeling native Spaniards might see those as aberrations!
My favorite version of this classic chilled soup is smooth and it contains bread (that is soaked in water and squeezed almost dry) to thicken it slightly, lots of extra virgin olive oil and red pepper instead of the traditional green pepper. I also add a pinch of Cayenne for some heat and character, but it’s completely optional!
Whatever you do, make sure you season your soup well, because nobody likes a bland Gazpacho. I usually season before chilling and then season again before serving, because I find that a lot of the flavor is lost while the soup is resting in the fridge.
The key to the success of this Spanish Gazpacho is ripe, in-season tomatoes. They provide all the sweetness you need, so no need to get your sugar canister.
I’m the type of person that enjoys waiting for a season so I can enjoy seasonal things, like Spanish Gazpacho and Cherry Clafoutis in the summer, Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and turkey in the Fall, peppermint flavored things for Christmas and the sweetest pineapples in the Spring. It makes everything a bit more special, because I had to wait for it! ?
However, if you wanna be bold and make this soup when tomatoes are not in-season, go for the canned San Marzano peeled tomatoes. It won’t be the same, but it’s the next best thing.
Finally, I like to serve my Gazpacho as an appetizer, in small glasses to make it fun and convenient. No spoons necessary, as your guests can just drink their soups!
I hope you guys enjoy this classic as much as we did. Now get out there and buy all the delicious fresh tomatoes you can get your hands on, because they won’t be available for long. ???
P.S. If you’re a chilled soup lover, you might want to also check out my recipe for Classic Vichyssoise Soup.
- 2 slices stale crusty bread (about 6 ounces), crusts removed and torn into smaller chunks
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- ½ spanish onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of cumin, to taste
- pinch of dry oregano, to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Optional garnishes: croutons, diced veggies, cream, bacon
- Soak the bread for 30 minutes in a small bowl with enough water to keep it submerged. Remove from water and squeeze out almost all the moisture with your hands.
- In a large bowl, add all the ingredients and mix to combine.
- Using a strong blender, blend the mixture in batches, until very smooth. Pass the mixture through a coarse sieve,pushing with the back of a wooden spoon. If desired, blend whatever was caught in the sieve and mix that with the soup, for a chunkier version.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour until well chilled.
- Before serving, adjust seasoning and serve in individual glasses or soup bowls. You can garnish with croutons, chopped bacon, herbs, black pepper, veggies and/or cream.
For this recipe, I recommend:
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