Gazpacho is a cold soup of Spanish origin made from chopped fresh vegetables with a predominance of tomato. Traditionally, dry white bread is also added to it. It is hard to imagine a more perfect meal for hot summer days. You can prepare it in just few minutes, without counting time for cooling it in the refrigerator. But even the cooling process can be accelerated by adding few ice cubes during the processing. By the way, after spending overnight in the refrigerator, in my opinion, gazpacho only gets better.
Quality of the ingredients is critical for gazpacho - the fresher and more flavorful are your vegetables, better are the results. Color of finished gazpacho depends on proportions, color, and processing of the ingredients. For example, if you use bright-red tomatoes, red pepper and peeled cucumber, your gazpacho will be very red. If you use green peppers and unpeeled cucumber, you get gazpacho that is rather pink.
The extent and method of chopping vegetables for the gazpacho vary from one recipe to another. Some people prefer very smooth gazpacho with vegetables pureed in a blender. Others prefer chopping components by hand, to produce a sort of a liquid salad. I like to process vegetables in a blender, but keep it somewhat chunky. I also like garnishing gazpacho with chopped vegetables when serving.
Internet and cookbooks offer many gazpacho recipes varying in their ingredients and the degree and method of pureeing. In some recipes tomatoes significantly exceed all other components. In other cases, tomatoes and other vegetables are used in approximately equal proportions. There are even recipes that recommend using good canned tomatoes, but I strongly disagree with this idea. I believe that unless you have access to good flavorful tomatoes, there is no point in making gazpacho.
When I make gazpacho I do not really bother with exact proportions. I simply get slightly different tasting gazpacho depending on what I happened to use. For example, last time when I was making gazpacho for whatever reason I felt like adding a tomatillo - completely unconventional vegetable for a gazpacho which worked perfectly well with the overall flavor.
Here is a rough ratio of ingredients for a traditional gazpacho:
4-5 large ripe tomatoes
1 large or two small cucumbers
1 bell pepper
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers
1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ cup wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Water, ice, or tomato juice to dilute, if you wish.
Cucumber, peppers, green onions for garnishing
Peel tomatoes, remove seeds and coarsely chop. To do this, place the tomatoes for just 10-15 seconds into boiling water, then into iced water and the skin comes off easily with a knife. To remove the seeds, I just cut the tomato crosswise and remove the seeds with my fingers.
If a cucumber is large and has tuff skin, it’s best to peel it and remove the seeds. Young cucumbers with tender skin and small seeds can be used as a whole. Cut the cucumber to large chunks before pureeing.
You can use either red or green bell pepper as long as they are sweet and juicy. But this is not a hard rule. For example, last time I decided to use Anaheim pepper, which is less juicy and fleshy than bell pepper but has some spiciness. Remove seeds and stem from the pepper and coarsely chop it.
Many recipes suggest using red onions. I think, the idea is that it would enhance the red color of the gazpacho. I am not that particular and use any mild onions. If I don’t have it handy, I use regular onions, just slightly less.
The rest is very simple. Place cut vegetables in a blender or food processor. It is easier to do it in portions. I usually blend different vegetables together, because the juicier vegetables help grinding the less juicy ones. The level of processing depends on your personal preferences. My personal preference is slightly chunky puree.
Pour pureed vegetables into large mixing bowl or pot and season with olive oil, vinegar and salt to taste. If it is not spicy enough to your taste, add some hot sauce. If you think that your gazpacho is too, you can add some water or tomato juice. After that, all you need is to put gazpacho in the refrigerator for several hours. If you absolutely must have it right away, add a few ice cubes when pureeing your vegetables.
When serving, garnish gazpacho with chopped cucumbers, peppers and green onions.
See more photos in Russian version of the recipe: