Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lisa’s Gazpacho

Lisa’s Gazpacho
Gazpacho--note the drizzled olive oil
Oh my, there are so very many ways to make gazpacho – the salad in a soup bowl. I have followed numerous recipes but always come back to this one and always to rave reviews. During the long, hot summers, the Andalucía region in Spain cools itself down with chilled gazpacho, a hearty and pungent thirst-quenching soup. It is a raw, cold soup – never cooked – and always served cold. Gazpacho is fresh, textured and light – a delicious summer treat. I like CRUNCH in my gazpacho – I will not use the food processor nor will it ever see the blender. I love the even chunks of garden goodness with each bite and avoid the blended concoctions. It takes a bit more time to do the chopping, but the end result is well worth it.
The most important ingredient!
Lisa was my roommate while I was a medical student, many years ago. One of us would make this often and eat it regularly, especially in the hot Boston summers. It is best made with vine-ripened fresh tomatoes from your farmers market – most any kind or color will work. If they are unavailable or it’s the dead of winter – this is still stunning with all canned tomatoes. Just please get a good quality Italian San Marzano brand. Luckily, they are readily available in most markets. So while this harkens to many hours of studying, at home or in a library (where I had to hide the food), the soup is so spectacular that I had to share. It is so easy to make – actually better the next day – and served cold. What a great summer healthy treat!

  • 3 or more large garlic cloves, peeled & split
  • 4 C Tomato juice
  • 2 small green or red bell peppers, seeded & evenly chopped
  • 3-4 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 16 oz canned diced tomatoes – I prefer Italian brands
  • ½ C finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and evenly chopped
  • ¼ C evenly chopped celery
  • 1/3 C evenly chopped zucchini (optional)
  • 2+ Tb extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2+ Tb red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 6 or more drops hot sauce (e.g., Tabasco)
  • Garnishes: cilantro, sour cream, avocado, chunky bread, or shrimp

Cut 3-4 garlic cloves longitudinally and impale each half on a toothpick. Most important, count, and remember, how many garlic clove-toothpick combos you actually create. You will want to retrieve them later before serving. This is a wonderful way to imbue the garlic flavor without risking biting into a raw garlic clove.
Garlic on a stick...makes it easy to find them later
Evenly chop (about 3/4-inch dice) 2 small green or red bell peppers, 3-4 large vine-ripened fresh tomatoes, 1 medium sweet onion, 1 large cucumber, 1-2 stalks celery, and, if using, 1-2 zucchini. Using a large bowl, gently mix 4 C tomato juice and 16 oz canned diced Italian tomatoes. If fresh tomatoes are unavailable, double the amount of canned diced tomatoes. Gently add all chopped vegetables and 2 Tb red wine vinegar, 2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tsp kosher salt, freshly ground pepper to taste and 6 drops of hot sauce. Taste – go ahead take 2!  Now is the time to adjust seasoning by adding additional salt, hot sauce and red wine vinegar. Carefully add the garlic clove-toothpick combos and gently stir throughout. Allow the soup to sit in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, before serving. This allows to the flavors “to marry” and blend as well as imbuing the soup with garlic flavor.
More tomatoes....
Chopped veggies for the gazpacho

The most important part before serving is to carefully remove the garlic-toothpicks from the soup. Now it is handy to remember exactly how many you actually added in the beginning! Serve cool from the refrigerator – with 1-3 garnishes. Our favorites are cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, avocado or grilled shrimp or bread. Serve with a drizzle of wonderful olive oil.
Toothpick hunt...find them all before serving! 
This is a bright, refreshing and surprisingly filling salad in a soup bowl, which would work well for lunch or dinner – as starter, side dish or entrée! Gazpacho is a high-acid dish that can kill many wines. A salad with vinaigrette is about the biggest anti-wine dish you can come up with. Gazpacho, given the tomatoes and red wine vinegar, is no different. The acid is so high it makes the wine taste sour. To counteract that, you need something with that kind of acid level. As silly as it might sound, Champagne or perhaps a Vouvray will work because of their high acid levels. In Spain, glasses of chilled fino or Manzanilla sherry are common and a wonderful pairing.



1 comment:

  1. A loyal blog fan accurately pointed out that this is NOT a classic Andalusian Gazpacho - as it omits bread. The Spanish people began making the soup when they had lots of tomatoes and would use day-old bread soaked in water to add to the soup. I agree and have made such soups. However, my preference remains with Lisa's recipe and the fresh crunch evenly chopped vegetables provide. By all means - try with and without bread and let me know your preference!