“Spanish people tend to judge themselves and others on the quality of their gazpacho.” These were the words spoken to me by a dinner guest moments before I was about to serve just that for dinner. Thankfully we had no Spaniards at the table that evening.
The gazpacho was also a success. I can’t, however, take all of the credit. My gazpacho recipe comes from a daylong cooking course my husband and I took at Daylesford Organic in Gloucestershire. Gazpacho was to be a main feature of the “Summer Dinner” we were to cook up led by a punchy little Portuguese man named Vlad, who was intent on teaching us that it is much more than cold tomato soup.
I grew up eating gazpacho, an appetizer for a summer’s day. Always chilled, they were often served with accompaniments. Extra peppers, onions, croutons, even cheese or sour cream, were passed around the table. Much like the extra adornments for Chile con Carne. Vlad’s gazpacho was not even a distant relative. He instructed us as to how each of the ingredients melded with one another and why the olive oil was such an important addition. Mark Bittman relayed recently that olive oil is, in fact, “an integral part of ‘real’ gazpacho.” This soup so transcended the gazpacho I once knew and it is easy to make. Yes there is the chopping, the waiting, the blending, the sieving and the chilling but even with all that it’s still easy.
You will need 1kg of small tomatoes, 1 red pepper, ½ red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 50g of bread, some salt, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, 4 tsp white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, a couple sprigs of basil and 500ml of water.
Now the above might seem intimidatingly specific, but really its not. Plus you can make it up as you go along. If you want it spicier add more cayenne, more velvety, add more oil and so on.
Chop all the ingredients and put them in a bowl, stir together and let sit for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 24 hours, covered with plastic wrap.
Blitz in a food processor or blender until smooth. This recipe alone is making me consider a Vitamix. If you want a chunky version you are now done. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
If not, pass the mixture through a food mill and strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Chill and serve.
I then took a little of the left over pulp and chilled it in the freezer to add a little texture. Completely optional and potentially unnecessary.