Gazpacho in the US
In my house it is not summer until I make the first pitcher of gazpacho. You may have tried gazpacho as the cold soup that has quickly been catching a spot in the menus of trendy restaurants all over the US. I have tried many, and none made the original any justice, not even in Spanish restaurants.
Actually, I am a bit of a purist. Is the base watermelon? Then it is not gazpacho. Is there King crab adorning it? Not gazpacho. Does it have tequila in it? Still not gazpacho. But it was good.
What is gazpacho?
So, what is gazpacho? Before health oriented Americans invented vegetable smoothies, Spaniards had invented the gazpacho. It is basically a blended salad, or cold vegetable soup, or salad smoothie, whatever fits your taste better. You just need to blend a bunch of vegetables, olive oil, vinegar and salt. It is so prevalent in Spain that one of Spain’s most famous songwriters, Joaquín Sabina, uses it in the song “Pero que hermosas eran” when he describes the virtues of his first (former) wife.
MI primera mujer era una arpía, pero muchacho, el punto del gazpacho, joder si lo tenía.
Which I would liberally translate as “My first wife was a witch, but, man, could she make a killer gazpacho”.
You can serve it in a mug, a cup or a bowl. With or without tropezones. Always stir it before serving. Always serve it cold. What I am sharing here is my mom’s recipe. But you can adjust the amounts of pretty much every ingredient to your tastes. I have to admit that I have never managed for my gazpacho to taste quite as good as hers, but she uses produce from our vegetable garden in Spain, our huerta, and I have to make do with whatever I can find here. On a regular basis, that is supermarket tomatoes. On a great day, they will come from a farmer’s market.
It is perfect as an appetizer, or as a first course, and it is more refreshing than a cold glass of water.
Since I can’t go to Spain this summer, at least just yet, for now I will have to console myself with listening to Sabina while I eat a bowl of this delicious soup.
Both are perfect for Chicago’s sweltering summer.
- 1 cucumber
- 6 tomatoes Make sure they are ripe. Roma tomatoes work great.
- 1/2 green pepper
- 1/4 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 slice bread If you want a gluten free or even lighter gazpacho, you can skip the bread.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar Extra points if you find "vinagre de jerez".
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup crushed ice
- Peel and dice the cucumber and add it to the pitcher.
- Wash the tomatoes, roughly cut them, and add to the pitcher. Some people like to blanch them and peel them, but I prefer them raw and with the peel. Both options work.
- Chop the onion and garlic and add it to the pitcher.
- Wash the pepper, cut it roughly and add it.
- Add the salt, vinegar, bread (if using it) and ice.
- Blend everything together. I like to use a handheld blender, but a regular vase blender will work well too.
- Add the olive oil and blend a bit more.
- Since we added a bit of ice, you can serve it immediately. But it will be even more delicious after it hangs out in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- When we have guests I reserve a bit of each of the vegetable ingredients, and chop it. It makes for a prettier and more interesting presentation.
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