Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gazpacho

I feel a little bit like I'm cheating, because this recipe does not contain anything I pulled out of my freezer except for the ice cubes. Nevertheless, I'm going to share it with you because it involves my beautiful garden, a handful of memories and just plain, good eating.

Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish soup, eaten cold. On a hot summery day, this is an absolute winner and it's fun to serve. You can let your guests (or yourself) dress up the soup as you wish: the usual toppings include diced cucumber, tomato, chopped boiled egg, green peppers and croutons. Keep a bottle of good olive oil on the side for that finishing drizzle.

This soup is as varied as each person makes it a little bit differently, but the base is always the same: tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, garlic, onion, day old bread, olive oil, water and salt. The first three ingredients can be found in abundance during this time of the year, so enjoy this great soup while you can!

Gazpacho
Six to eight medium size ripe tomatoes
2 medium sized cucumbers
1 green pepper
1 small red onion
4 garlic cloves
6 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 slices of day old bread, crust removed
4 cups of water
1 large piece of watermelon, deseeded
Salt
Pepper

Peel (optional) the tomatoes by quickly dunking them in hot water, then in an ice bath. Cut into large chunks. Peel the cucumber and chop 2/3rds in pieces, dice the rest. Add the large pieces to the tomatoes. Cut 2/3rds of the green pepper (cut and deseeded) into chunks, dice the rest, and add the chunks to the tomatoes. Now peel the onion and do the same, keeping 1/3 behind. Add three cloves of garlic. Soak the bread in the vinegar for a little while, then squeeze out the liquid and add the bread to the mix. Blend into a thick sauce. Add the olive oil, stir in two cups of water and taste. You are looking for a fresh, tomato/garlicky/cucumber flavor. Add some salt, add the rest of the vinegar and stir in a pinch of pepper. Taste again. If you like garlic, you may want to add the fourth clove. Finally blend in the watermelon, stir and chill. If you like your soup thick and chunky, don't add any more water. (I like mine soup-ier so I add the full four cups)

Serve in either a plate or in small soup cups or glasses, with a spoon. Set out small dishes with croutons, the diced cucumber, green pepper and onion so people can add them to the soup, or mix all three and serve the soup with a scoop of fresh veggies on top. It's all good. Have a squeeze bottle handy with good olive oil for that finishing touch drizzle!

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