Gazpacho is a Spanish cold soup of tomato and vegetables made with a perfect blend of fresh tomatoes, Italian frying pepper, garlic, vinegar, bread and olive oil. In most recipes —especially the old ones— stale bread was always used, but we opted for a lighter gazpacho by skipping the bread and adding onion and cucumber like most of the contemporary recipes. Also, it is our most international recipe along with churros and Spanish omelet.
Little is known about when this recipe, also known as gazpacho Andaluz, was invented. It is supposedly an ancient formula and some connoisseurs would point the Romans as the real origin. Around 1796 the gazpacho had no tomato and green pepper at all and, according to some recipes of the time, it mainly carried bread, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, salt, sugar and olive oil. Anyway, everything evolves and cooking is no exception, especially popular cuisine.
At present the most famous gazpacho comes from Andalusia, the southernmost region of mainland Spain, though you can find it all over the country. This simple and perfect summer soup is prepared in most Spanish households, implying so many variations that it is almost impossible to identify an authentic gazpacho. It is served as a first course along with raw diced vegetables for garnish, however, at School of Tapas today it will be served in small glasses as a tapa.
Please note that the word gazpacho refers as well to a very different group of recipes such as the gazpacho from La Mancha —also known as galiano or gazpacho manchego— a peasant fare consisting of a stew with chunks of small game meat (hare, partridge, rabbit or chicken), bread and stock, and served piping hot. That gazpacho will surely be featured in our School of Tapas too.
- 2 pounds 3oz (1 kilo) tomatoes
- ½ cup (65g) Italian frying pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1 cup (110g) onion cut into chunks
- 1⅓ cups (195g) cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
- ½ small clove garlic, minced
- Salt to taste
- A couple pinches of sugar
- A pinch of black pepper (optional)
- 3 tbps of sherry vinegar
- ½ cup (125ml) virgin olive oil
- 2½ cups (625ml) water
- 1 cup (110g) tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional)
- 1 cup (110g) green peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 cup (150g) cucumber, seeded and diced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Halve the tomatoes and deseed them being careful not to waste any tomato juice. Keep the seeds in a bowl along with the juice released.
- Cut the tomatoes into chunks and put them in a large bowl or plastic container. Strain the seeds and juices over and throw the seeds away.
- Add the green pepper, the onion, the cucumber and the minced garlic. Mix with a wooden spoon.
- Season with salt, pepper (if using), sugar and vinegar, and pound the vegetables with a pestle in order to extract some of their juices. There is no need to mash them at all.
- Add the olive oil and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Take the container out of the fridge and process all the vegetables and juices up in a blender or food processor at high speed until you get a smooth, creamy and silky gazpacho.
- Strain the mixture through a colander. Add 2½ cups of water to the blender jar, to flush the leftovers and add to the soup, previously strained. Taste it and adjust the seasoning with salt, sugar or vinegar as needed.
- Transfer the soup to a glass bottle using a funnel and keep it in the refrigerator.
Tips for a perfect gazpacho:
- We love to use plum tomatoes for this recipe, they are usually juicy and meaty at the same time, and they also exhibit a certain acidity, in other words, they are perfect for making sauces, juices, and soups. Roma or San Marzano would work perfectly.
- You may need to add water to adjust the consistency of this chilled tomato soup. We do not normally do so though as the macerated vegetables would provide enough liquid.
- If you feel that your gazpacho is too runny add some more olive oil or stale bread and blend it again. Olive oil will emulsify the natural vegetable juices and will thicken the gazpacho.
- There are many people who do not conceive this soup without bread, so if you want you can add a cup and a half (75g) of stale bread, but only the crumb.
- If your gazpacho is too tangy add a few pinches of sugar but add more vinegar if you feel it needs an acid kick.
- The traditional garnishes for this cold tomato soup are: tomatoes, cucumbers, Italian frying peppers and onions, all in the same proportions and finely diced. You can also add croutons, Spanish cured ham or diced hard-boiled egg.
- Think of this cold soup with some slices of Spanish cured ham, Manchego cheese and a Spanish omelette or empanadillas (hand pies stuffed with tuna)… it would make a great menu for a Spanish summer picnic… Bring a bottle of wine along!
Lastly, serve this gazpacho in small glasses and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top. Place the garnishes in different bowls so that each person can garnish his gazpacho as desired. The gazpacho has to be thoroughly chilled —best if enjoyed in the hottest time of any Summer day—.