A Summer Must: Andalusian Gazpacho

In this heat, I don’t really feel like eating. And if I do eat, I want to eat refreshing things like salads, tomato sandwiches, seafood with salsa..I must not be the only one as I see more and more ceviche,  and cold soups as appetizers instead of the traditional heavier appetizers. Today I will offer you the recipe of one of the most popular summer soup: Gazpacho.

Gazpacho is “ is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalusia. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal (where it is known as gaspacho) and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its cold temperature and acidic bite. Gazpacho has ancient roots. There are a number of theories of its origin, including as an Arab soup of bread, olive oil, water and garlic that arrived in Spain with the Moors, or via the Romans with the addition of vinegar. Once in Spain it became a part of Andalusian cuisine, particularly Córdoba and Seville, using stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar” Wikipedia.

There are two types of gazpacho. One called Andalusian which is very smooth and guests can add thinly diced vegetables to it, or you can have the more traditional gazpacho that is a soup made of coarsely chopped vegetables. Both are excellent..

The recipe I am using today is based on that of Anya Von Bremzen. It serves 6 people: You will need 8 slices of day-old country bread ( without the crust), and 4 slice of old -bread with the crust, 3 lbs of ripe tomatoes preferably homegrown, or vine tomatoes diced, 6 medium garlic cloves, 1 long European seedless cucumber peeled and diced, 1 green pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 medium red onion, 1/2 cup of very good quality olive oil, 4 tbsp of very good quality sherry vinegar, a small pinch of cumin seeds, sea salt  and ground pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, place the diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, half of the diced onion, half of the bell peppers. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the vegetables so that the vegetables will let out some juices and liquids. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred 8 slices of bread in pieces in a bowl. Squeeze the juices of a few tomatoes and 1 tbsp of sherry vinegar over the bread, and let this mixture rest for a few minutes. While the bread is soaking using a pestle and a mortar, crush 3 garlic cloves, and the cumin with 1/2 tsp of sea salt.

Take the bowl of bread and with both of your hands massage the bread to make it a paste. Mix this paste with the garlic mixture. Place the whole thing in a food processor and process until very smooth. Slowly add your vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, half of the diced onion, and only half of each bell pepper. You will want to add the olive oil at the same time in 3 additions. Once the whole thing is finally ground, pass it through a sieve. Once you have passed the whole mixture through the sieve, add 3 tbsp of sherry vinegar or more ( according to taste). Salt and pepper as you feel as well.

Chill the gazpacho for at least 3 hours but no more than 6-8 hours or the garlic will overwhelm the taste of the gazpacho.

The Croutons: with the remainder bread, lightly toast the bread in a toaster, grind the garlic cloves over the bread. With a pastry brush, brush olive oil over the bread slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them. With a knife or a pair of scissors, cut small squares of bread that you will lay on a silpat. Bake in a warm oven at 325 for a few minutes, or cook them in a frying pan. Make sure to watch that they do not burn so keep on stirring them and turning them while they are cooking.

Place the garnishes in 3 individual bowls. Place the rest of the diced onion in a small bowl, place the croutons in another bowl, and place the left-overs diced red, green and red bell pepper in another bowl for your guests to serve themselves.

Serve the gazpacho in wine glasses and sprinkle a few diced bell peppers on the top of the gazpacho. Let your guests help themselves to the garnishes.

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!!