Yep, it’s getting to be about that time of the year again. You know, when it’s just too dang hot outside to fire up the oven or stovetop. A popular food blogger trend is to eventually post a Gazpacho recipe, so I figured it’s about time for me to share my own take on the dish. This is what I would consider a classic take on Gazpacho, although since I’m still coming down from my incredible visit to the Tabasco headquarters in April (see here), I couldn’t resist spicing this soup up with some of their original pepper sauce.
Gazpacho is an ancient cold soup first developed in Andalusia, the southern region of Spain. It is believed to have been introduced first by Arabic culture as a soup made from leftover bread, and possibly influenced by the Romans with the soup’s telltale inclusion of vinegar. Tomatoes, now an integral part of modern Gazpachos, came much later, once Columbus returned from the Americas bearing a weird, red ornamental fruit that was eventually used in culinary circles (after everyone got over their belief that tomatoes were poisonous).
In my opinion, the key to a good Gazpacho is to find a marriage of contrasting flavors, namely fresh cucumbers, tart tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, and biting onion. So that’s what we’re going to use as our base, and then complement the vegetables with garlic for immediacy, lime juice for brightness, olive oil for body, vinegar for tanginess, Tabasco for heat, and a pinch of basil for that last bit of spark to round things out.
Gazpacho (Cold Vegetable Soup) - Paleo, Primal, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan
1/2 small Spanish (sweet) onion, chopped
2 lbs ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber, divided
1 red bell pepper, chopped, divided
1 clove garlic, sliced
juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp olive oil, more for drizzling
1 tbsp kosher salt, more to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, more to taste
1 tsp Tabasco, more to taste
black pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
1 handful fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
1. Soak the onions in cold water for 20 minutes to reduce their astringency. As the onions soak, remove the tomato skins. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and prepare a separate bowl of ice water. Slice a small “x” into the bottom of each tomato. Dip a tomato into the boiling water and blanch for 15 seconds, then transfer to the ice water bath. Once cool (it should only take a few seconds), peel the skin from the tomato using the “x” to start your peeling. Repeat for the remaining tomatoes.
2. Remove the tomato seeds. Slice the tomatoes into large chunks, then extract the seeds and transfer them to a mesh strainer that has a bowl underneath it to catch liquid. Once all of the seeds are in the strainer, mush them around with a spoon until all of their liquid has fallen into the bowl underneath. Combine the tomato flesh with the leftover juice.
3. Prepare your cucumber. Slice off 1/3 of the cucumber, remove its seeds, then chop; combine with 1/2 of the chopped red bell pepper for a garnish (throw them in a bag and put them in the fridge for later). Peel the remaining 2/3 cucumber, remove the seeds, and coarsely chop.
4. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, the 2/3 chopped cucumber, the remaining 1/2 bell pepper, garlic, onion, lime juice, olive oil, salt, vinegar, and Tabasco. Blend to your desired smoothness; some folks like chunks, which is cool with me. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
5. Taste the soup and add black pepper, salt, vinegar, and Tabasco to taste. Garnish with the basil ribbons, cucumber, and bell pepper; drizzle with olive oil and serve.
** The cucumber directions might seem a little complicated, but I like the idea of skin-on cucumbers as a garnish, and the skins don’t blend well in the soup (hence the two separate instructions).