There are two different travel scenarios that were repeated ad nauseum in my high school Spanish textbooks. The first, involved a shopping trip to Spain’s monstrous department store chain, El Corte Inglés. I get it, the excitement over one-stop shopping–especially in those dark days, back before we had Amazon.
The second scenario involved travelers entering a restaurant in Spain and ordering gazpacho. I never understood my instructors’ fascination with gazpacho. As a teenager, back before I developed an adventurous palate, the idea of “cold tomato soup” sounded less than inviting. But I loved the sound of the word (especially when pronounced Castillian style, with a bit of a lisp — “gath-pa-cho”), so I used it–and giggled–every chance that I could.
Fast forward several years to a trip to Seattle. I stopped into a little cafe outside of Pike Place Market and saw gazpacho featured on the chalkboard as the soup of the day, so I had to order it. I fell in love! It has so many flavors that I love–fresh tomato, garlic, onion, lime and vinegar. Because I couldn’t find it anywhere, I started to make it myself.
When we went to Spain a few years back, I was excited to visit Andalucia (the dish’s home) and eat gazpacho by the gallon. Unfortunately, it was February and I found that most places don’t serve gazpacho in the winter. I get it. Gazpacho is best when it’s ingredients are fresh, flavorful and in-season. But I was still disappointed.
The only gazpacho I could find in Sevilla in the winter, at a pub owned by Irish expats.
I told my friend last week I was going to the farmers market and would spend this week on a gazpacho-making spree and she recommended this recipe, so I figured I’d use it as my guide.
The recipe called for seeding and peeling tomatoes which is against my religion (a waste of perfectly good tomato!) so I opted not to do that. I also didn’t seed the peppers, because I wanted to add extra heat. The recipe didn’t include any stale bread, as is typical in Spain, so I threw some in. Otherwise it’s similar to the original recipe.
I like it chunky, but you could puree it even more. I understand that in Spain, it’s often very smooth and served in a glass.
Summer Gazpacho Recipe
- 3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cup cucumber, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 sourdough baguette (a few days stale is okay, crumble it in the food processor to make breadcrumbs)
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 small hot peppers (we used yellow “hot lemon” peppers from our garden but you can use jalapenos) minced and seeded. If you prefer things spicier, leave in the seeds.
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped