August 11th 2011
Gazpacho is a cold, raw vegetable soup which originates from Andalusia in Spain. Because of it’s bread, oil and garlic base, there’s a certain amount of speculation on where it came from – most probably it arrived in Spain with the Moors or Romans (the name itself may even be pre Roman in origin). It’s very popular as a cold food during the long hot summer months and there are many variations, though generally it contains tomatoes. As London literally burned around me this week, gazpacho seemed like an excellent soup to cool things down. Shame the riot police didn’t think of that!
Andalusian style Gazpacho recipe (makes one and half pints):
3 pieces of garlic (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 small cucumber (chopped)
5 tomatoes (blanched, peeled and chopped)
a few fresh basil leaves
9 almonds (ground to a powder)
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1 – 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar if you have it)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Gazpacho is quite simple to make, most of the work is done with a blender or food processor, though traditionally all the ingredients would have been pounded with a mortar and pestle.
Mix in a tablespoonful of red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar to be really authentic) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the bowl and allow the contents to stand for an hour or so.
Chop up a green pepper (I had half a red one from something else I was cooking, so used half and half for extra colour),
and a small peeled cucumber.
Blanch 5 tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of minutes, to loosen the skin. Afterwards, drain, peel, remove the cores and chop.
Put all the ingredients into a blender, including the basil, ground almonds, salt and pepper
and blend until smooth.
When everything is reduced to a smooth purée, taste the gazpacho. Mine needed a bit more vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the seasoning slowly – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you add too much. Chill the gazpacho for a few hours, or better still, overnight in the fridge.
Serve gazpacho with croutons, chopped peppers, hard boiled eggs, cucumber, olives etc. All of these can be pre prepared in little bowls for the centre of the table.
I made croutons in the oven, with stale bread, ground herbs and olive oil, while the garlic, breadcrumbs, oil and vinegar sat for an hour.
I’ve noticed that a lot of recipes call for deseeding the tomatoes and cucumber – I can’t say that I think it’s necessary when using a blender.
All the vegetables are in season and I bought them from Perry Court Farm, at the farmers market on Sunday – their tomatoes are particularly good (Martin, the farmer, boasts that they are grown in “real dirt”).
In case it hasn’t occurred to you, gazpacho + vodka makes a superior Bloody Mary!