GAZPACHO ANDALUZ | A bomb of rich nutrients condensed in the form of a refreshing soup that can be readily made in 15 minutes.
Having just returned home from a whirlwind escapade to Spain and the Basque country, I was completely mesmerised by the arresting landscape, architecture, rich culture and history, and of course, the myriad of flavours offered by Spanish and Catalan cuisine.
To that effect, it is of no surprise that the first dish I decided to make during the hot summer months is the gazpacho. Gazpacho is Andalusia’s best known dish and is the perfect summer soup for a refreshing light appetiser. It is made of ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, garlic, and bread moistened with water that is blended with olive oil, vinegar, and water and served cold. Many variations are available but I like to keep things simple, and stick with the most popular Andaluz style.
Traditionally made in a mortar and pestle, one simply pounds stale bread and a vegetable mixture into a paste, before adding the tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar. The tomatoes should always go through a sieve so there are no seeds in the finished dish.
The key to making a great gazpacho starts with epic – and I stress epic– tomatoes. Because this preparation is raw, there is simply no hiding of a sub-standard specimen. So go for gold (heirloom or the likes)! Also, use the best quality olive oil you can afford. I used Himalayan sea salt, but feel free to use the finest unprocessed sea salt that tickles your fancy. Feel free to garnish with chives, chopped tomatoes or fresh basil leaves too.
Easy Summer Gazpacho
PREP TIME: 10 mins | ACTIVE TIME: 5 mins | TOTAL TIME: 15 mins | YIELDS: 3-4 servings
- 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1kg ripe plum tomatoes (or best tomatoes you can find), cored and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 75g stale crusty white or country bread (skin removed), chopped
- 2–2½ tbsp sherry vinegar, or to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 250ml of ice water / ice cubes
- Chop the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.
- Soak the bread in water.
- Put the vegetable mixture into a blender, add the oil oil and sherry vinegar, crack in some black pepper and pinch of salt then whiz until smooth. Check the consistency. If it is still rather thick and not very rich, add another glug or two of olive oil until you reach a consistency you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. You might need a little more vinegar or more ice cubes/water. Cover and chill again, until really cold and you’re ready to serve.
- Meanwhile, make the toasts, if using. Brush the slices of bread generously with olive oil. Place a large griddle pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the bread and toast on either side until golden and crunchy. Drain on kitchen paper, then season with a little salt and pepper.
- To serve, stir the gazpacho and taste again as the seasoning may have changed as the soup is now very cold. Adjust as necessary, then serve ice cold, sprinkled with chopped basil or chives if you desire, and an extra drizzle of olive oil and the toasts alongside, if using.