I don’t believe there is any such thing as too many tomatoes. And since I can never seem to get enough of them, this cold soup has been a summer favorite. In fact, I think the inaugural use of my very first blender, acquired during the summer after my sophomore year of college, was to make gazpacho soup.
That summer, and many summers to follow, I blended up a new batch of gazpacho about once a week, and took up valuable refrigerator space, keeping the large stock pot chilled and ready for hot-weather snacking.
The fall immediately following my newfound love of gazpacho, I went to study abroad in Barcelona. I hadn’t realized this before, but gazpacho is actually from southern Spain. As a result, it’s a lot easier to find at restaurants in the south of Spain than in the north, and a lot easier to find at restaurants in the Spanish summertime than in other seasons. I hope by now I’ve convinced you that the best thing to do is just to make it yourself.
Gazpacho is very simple to throw together, too, since it doesn’t actually involve cooking over any heat source; it’s more of a blend and chill kind of recipe. The most time-consuming step is refrigerating the soup for an hour before serving.
The secret to its tastiness is not just tomatoes: the soup is thickened by blending a slice or two of bread into the broth. I also like to use apple cider vinegar in my gazpacho, so it comes out nice and tart. Then I garnish it with ripe avocado slices, or serve it with warm fresh-baked bread on the side. I like the flavor combination of the tangy soup with the milder bread and avocado. (If apple cider vinegar makes it too acidic for your taste, you can try using less of it, or just use a few tablespoons of fresh lime juice instead.)
I know that some of you have already skipped ahead and noticed that this recipe calls for a can of tomato juice (or 6-8 ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped, blended, and strained of seeds). And I know that some of you might have an aversion to V8-type vegetable purées, as firm believers that only fruits are juice-worthy, and not vegetables (although technically tomatoes are a kind of fruit…). But this soup takes tomato juice to a whole other, very different, level. It is tart, tangy, refreshing, and cold. It is the answer to your summer desire for juicy fresh tomato slices laced with olive oil, and the crispy snap of cucumbers sprinkled with salt and vinegar, all wrapped up in the laziness of wanting to sit back and slurp your summer vegetables up with a spoon.
Gazpacho Soup (Spanish cold tomato soup)
~ 1 large can tomato juice (or V8, or 6-8 ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped, blended, and strained of seeds)
~ 1 medium white onion, chopped (yellow onion will work, too)
~ 1-2 slices of bread (any kind really, and it could be stale bread too; I used rosemary olive oil bread)
~ 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or use 2-3 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice)
~ 1/4 cup olive oil
~ half of a cucumber, peeled and very finely diced
~ half of a green bell pepper, very finely diced
~ 1-2 small tomatoes, finely diced
~ salt to taste
~ white or black pepper to taste
~ cayenne pepper, Tabasco, Tapatio, or Sriracha to taste
~ 2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, minced
~ 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
~ half of a white onion, very finely diced, to add after blending
~ half an avocado, sliced, to garnish each bowl when served
~ fresh chives, diced, to garnish each bowl when served
How to make it:
1. Pour a cup or two from the can of tomato juice into a blender or food processor. Add chopped onion and the torn-up bread slice(s). (And, optionally, basil or garlic.) Blend until nearly smooth.
2. Pour the blended mixture, and the rest of the tomato juice, into a large pot or bowl that you can later store in the fridge. Add apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Then add salt, ground pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Stir.
3. Finely dice one or two fresh tomatoes and any other optional crunchy additions to the soup: I add diced tomatoes, cucumber, and green pepper; some people also add diced onion or celery.
4. Cover and let chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. (The olive oil may separate, so the soup will probably need another good stir when you remove it from the fridge.)
5. Garnish with avocado slices or diced chives. Good for about a week, if you can make it last that long!