One of my absolute favorite summer dishes is Andalusian Gazpacho, a Spanish tomato-based soup. To me, it tastes like summer in a bowl. You must, however, start with good farm stand or homegrown tomatoes. Period. Don’t even think about making this gazpacho if you can’t use excellent tomatoes.
I pretty much follow the recipe except for substituting red bell pepper for the green pepper. Also, I don’t add any water to the soup because I don’t want to dilute any of the flavor, and I don’t bother to use the sieve to strain out the little bits of tomato and pepper skin (though you should strain the soup if you want it perfectly smooth). Most gazpachos are served cold, but I like this one best at room-temperature right after it’s made. It’s a perfect way to showcase those delicious, garden-fresh tomatoes!
-recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine
Straining this soup makes it absolutely smooth; if you’d rather not strain it, purée it more coarsely so the soup is chunky and tiny fibers aren’t an issue. This recipe was adapted from Carmen Perujo, a home cook from Seville, who says that gazpacho used to be served as the penultimate course of the midday meal, “just before the fruit, which was always our dessert.” Nowadays, it’s often served as an appetizer.
Serves four. Yields 4 cups.
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (to yield 2 cups)
1-1/2 lb. very red, ripe tomatoes (about 4 large), cut into large pieces
3-inch-long piece of baguette, sliced and dried overnight or until hard
1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar; more to taste
2 tsp. coarse salt; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1 cup peeled, diced cucumber, for garnish
1 cup diced onion, for garnish (optional)
Put the garlic, green pepper, tomatoes, bread, olive oil, vinegar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients begin to purée (if the bread is hard, it may bounce about and take a while to break down); continue processing until the mixture is as fine a purée as possible, 3 to 5 min.
Pass the soup through a large fine sieve set over a large bowl, pressing until only solids remain in the sieve; discard the solids. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, or enough to give the soup the consistency of a thin milkshake. If you want a thicker soup, add less water, or none at all. Add more salt or vinegar to taste. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled (or serve it immediately with a few ice cubes in each bowl).
Ladle the gazpacho into chilled bowls or cups. Grind fresh pepper on top, if you want, and pass bowls of diced cucumber and onion, if using, so people can garnish their own.
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