Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Quick & Easy Gazpacho (Chilled Tomato Vegetable Soup): A Healthy No Cook Summer Recipe

It's All About Less Fuss, More Flavor

Simple and refreshing no cook gazapcho (chilled tomato and vegetable soup) - FarmgirlFare.com
Beat the heat with this simple and refreshing, healthy gazpacho that's packed with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, onion, and garlic.

It's funny how you can go so long without ever knowing about something, and then once you do you're instantly bombarded by it. That's what happened to me a while back with sherry wine vinegar.

I'd never heard of it before, saw it listed in a recipe, and then suddenly it seemed like half the recipes I came across during the next couple of weeks were calling for the stuff—which I still haven't been able to find for sale anywhere (update: found some!).

Then it was the phrase 'my bad.' I saw a book of cute animal photos called I'm Sorry. . . My Bad!, couldn't figure out the title, and the next thing I knew I was hearing my bad everywhere—including in a seven-year-old movie I'd already watched twice.

Lately it's been gazpacho. Of course I was already familiar with this cold soup, but I'd never actually made or tasted it. Back in August I was served some during a Sunday brunch with friends, and after one dainty slurp I was hooked.

"This would be the perfect thing to keep in the fridge all summer long!" I exclaimed, and immediately demanded the recipe. The hostess opened up a battered copy of Mollie Katzen's beloved New Moosewood Cookbook and proceeded to tell me how she'd personalized the recipe over the years, including stirring in a little yogurt and garnishing it with a dollop of sour cream.

That afternoon the gazpacho flood began. I found a recipe for it sitting in my e-mail in-box when I arrived back the farm. And another one in a magazine I flipped through that evening.

Gazpacho was suddenly everywhere on the web, too, and I discovered my foodie pal Finny had just whipped up a batch using tomatoes from her garden. On and on it went. I took this as a big red sign and dove in.

Gazpacho is, according to this article in Saveur magazine, "the definitive Andalusian dish, and—with the possible exception of paella—Spain's most famous culinary export." I've also learned that it has approximately three million variations.

The basic idea is that you combine bread, olive oil, and vinegar with some other ingredients (often fresh tomatoes and cucumbers), blend it up (or not), and serve the resulting mixture chilled. But just what are the other ingredients?

During some quick research I found recipes that called for—are you ready?—all of the following things: tomato juice, V8 juice, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, stale bread, bread crumbs, cucumbers, green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, piquillo peppers, jalapeno peppers, chopped green chiles, radishes, leeks, garlic, celery, white onions, yellow onions, red onions, scallions, shallots, olive oil, vegetable oil, dry white wine, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, tarragon vinegar, sherry wine vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, unflavored gelatin, green olives with pimientos, chicken stock, a beef bouillon cube, chipotle chiles in adobo, sugar, maple syrup, honey, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, basil, oregano, tarragon, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, ginger, parsley, yogurt, sour cream, fava beans, avocado, almonds, green grapes, crab meat, zucchini, and water. Water?

The June 2008 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food has a tropical gazpacho made with mangoes, cucumbers, and buttermilk. In The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, authors Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins included a recipe for green gazpacho that calls for arugula, watercress, yogurt, and three raw eggs.

In The New Basics Cookbook (one of my all time favorite cookbooks), Rosso and Lukins offer up a more traditional version and admit that they've been known to add a bit of vodka to their mugs "so that it becomes a Spanish Bloody Mary," which I thought sounded like a very good idea.

Gazpacho garnishes ran from chopped tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and onions to black olives and chopped hard-boiled eggs. Croutons were mentioned all over the place.

Ultimately I decided to go the very simple route with both ingredients and technique. I've never understood the common practice of adding purchased tomato juice to gazpacho when you could just use more fresh tomatoes instead, which is what I did.

I also skipped the traditional stale bread, went easy on the olive oil (one recipe I found called for 1½ cups!), and used white balsamic vinegar because that was what I had on hand.

There's no need to blanch, peel, seed, or force anything through a sieve in my version, and all of the vegetable goodness ends up right in your bowl. I wasn't trying for traditional, but I did leave out the gelatin, shrimp, and raw eggs. Besides being delicious, this gazpacho also happens to be extremely good for you.

If you've never had gazpacho, I urge you to give it a try, even if, like me, you're not a big fan of cold soups. This recipe is basically a thick juice, which can be sipped rather than slurped—and easily made thinner—if desired.

July 2011 update: I've gone crazy for Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (and I'm not usually a hot sauce person), so this year's gazpacho (ripen, tomatoes, ripen!) will likely be liberally doused with it.

What do you like to put in your gazpacho?



Some people refer to gazpacho as liquid salad.

Farmgirl Susan's Simple Summer Gazpacho
Makes about 6 cups (48 ounces)

**Click here to print this recipe**

While flavorful, vine-ripened tomatoes are of the utmost importance here, this is a perfect opportunity to use up those not-so-perfect-looking specimens you might have hanging around. Make it a day ahead if you can, as the flavor increases dramatically after sitting overnight in the fridge.

Weighing your ingredients makes things so much easier, especially when you're dealing with the often disparate sizes of fruits and vegetables. I love my Oxo Good Grips 11-pound digital kitchen scale and often use it several times a day. The pull-out display is awesome, and it's also great for weighing postage.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference.

2½ pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 8 medium), preferably heirloom and organic, chopped
2 medium cucumbers (about 13 ounces), chopped
2 small sweet red peppers (about 8 ounces), cored and chopped
1 yellow or white onion (about 8 ounces), chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic (1 heaping Tablespoon), finely chopped
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey (or 2 Tb. if your tomatoes aren't real sweet)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Optional:
Yogurt
Sour cream
A squirt of hot sauce, such as Sriracha
Celery stick and a splash of vodka

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using a counter top blender (I really like my KitchenAid 7-cup blender), purée the vegetable mixture in small batches until smooth. Combine and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the fridge.

Serve chilled, with a little yogurt stirred in and/or a dollop of sour cream on top if desired, along with any other garnishes you like. This gazpacho will keep for three to four days.

Got a bumper crop? More Farmgirl Fare recipes featuring fresh tomatoes:
Sun Dried Tomato and Fresh Tomato Artichoke Pesto (for pasta and more)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the fresh picked foodie farm blog where the mornings may be nice and nippy (hooray for polar fleece season!), but our late-planted tomatoes and cucumbers in the kitchen garden are just now at their peak, and since putting up portable electric fencing is still hot and sweaty work even if it is only in the 70s outside, I see at least one more batch of refreshingly cool gazpacho being whizzed up in our early October future.

19 comments:

  1. Oh I like this recipe - simple, basic, down-to-earth. And, I bet it is just perfectly delicious. I'll have to try it, but first I have to see if I can find any tomatoes worthy of such bliss. I may have to save this until next summer, but I'm going to try some of your other wonderful recipes.

    Thanks, Susan!

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  2. I'm back 'cuz I forgot to ask this question: Have you ever thought of doing a cookbook?

    (Now that you've stopped laughing 'cuz you're probably thinking about the 18,973 other things you always have to do, and who has time to write a cookbook??? - it would be so amazing, and you know it would sell like hotcakes - which you probably have a great recipe for!!)

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  3. so sorry (or not?) for your cold mornings... we hit a toasty 90-99 degrees here in southern Cal yesterday! what happened to fall, i ask! :) if i can find good tomatoes (maybe at the farmer's market tonight!), i'll have to try your recipe! sounds cooling and yummy! thanks susan!

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  4. When I had it in Andalucia, they served it with a side plate of garnishes which included fried bread cubes, chopped green pepper, and little cubes of serrano ham. One place might also have included chopped hard boiled egg.

    Did you know that before the tomato was brought from the new world, gazpacho was made with grapes and almonds? Some people still make this and call it white gazpacho.

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  5. I'm with you--despite an over-abundance of the ingredients, I've never made, nor eaten, gazpacho. My husband is not a fan of soup, which is very sad. And inconvenient. But he does love anything Spanish, after a trip we took there a couple of years ago, so maybe I could sneak this one by him.

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  6. Hi,
    I am not a cold soup fan but the local grocery here has the sherry wine vinegar. I'd be happy to mail you a bottle if you would like to try it.
    We had to shut the windows here this week also (northwest Ohio). I am not ready for cold weather!!
    Thanks for all the adorable photos of your animals.

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  7. Gazpacho rules! I like to use spicy V8 in "my" version!

    maria

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  8. I LOVE Gazpacho.

    The first time I served it to Young One, though, he said, "Mom, you forgot to cook the soup!"

    Thanks for the recipe. I don't think I would change or add a thing!

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  9. This is what I do. I put 1 English cucumber, 3 scallions, 3 green peppers (sliced into quarters), a large handful of cilantro, and some garlic in the food processor. When it's liquidocious, I put it into a pot or large bowl and pour in 1 large can of tomato juice. Then I season with lemon, lime, or both and some S&P and maybe something a little kickier, like cayenne.

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  10. Guess what? I just read another blog and she uses The Moosewood Cookbook. I loved the name which is what caught my eye. Now I have to go get one for myself. If you use it too it must be great. Thanks.

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  11. Gaspacho - I had it Spain in 1968 and it was WHITE! I thought of it as salad soup. No where on the Internet have I been able to find a recipe for White Gaspacho. I would love one because I don't really like tomatoes.

    Anyway it was wonderful.

    Love your blog.

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  12. Hi Barb,
    I'm definitely a fan of simple, basic, down-to-earth recipes. I think part of that comes from the fact that after you've done all that working growing the food, you don't want to have to mess with it much in the kitchen! Hence my Less Fuss, More Flavor philosophy. Either that or I'm just lazy, LOL. But the truth is that if you start with the best ingredients, you really don't need to do much to them - which suits me perfectly!

    Yes, the tomatoes you use in this gazpacho should be fabulous. If you can't find any, it'll definitely be worth the wait until next year. It might not be an easy wait, but it'll be worth it. I know I'm planning (hoping?) to get my tomatoes in the ground much earlier next spring so I can have gazpacho in the fridge all summer long.

    And thanks for asking if I've ever thought of writing a cookbook. As a matter of fact I have, and some book editors have been asking me that same question, too. So I now have an agent and am working on (or supposed to be working on!) a book proposal. But Shhhhhhhh. Nothing's been finalized yet - mostly because I need to get my butt in gear and get working on it! ; )

    Hi Sharilyn
    No need to be sorry - I'll take chilly over sweatdrenched any day (I am so not a summer person.) I will admit it's a little weird waking up in The Shack and having it be barely 50 degrees in here, but all you have to do is go outside and start working to warm up and get the blood pumping! : )

    Seeing as how you're still having 90 degree temps there, I have a feeling you should be able to find some nice tomatoes despite it being October. What I want to know is what the heck happened to September?

    Hi Kate,
    Oooh, the little cubes of serrano ham sound really good. I did learn about white gazpacho during my informal gazpacho research. I bet it's delish, especially with the almonds. I've been on a real almond kick lately.

    Hi Kristin,
    Joe isn't a soup fan either (what is wrong with these guys?) but that's fine because it just means more gazpacho for me.

    If you really want to share, you could always serve it to him in a mug with a splash of vodka and not even mention the 's' word. ; )

    Hi Janis,
    Well how sweet are you? I just might take you up on that sherry wine vinegar offer. I'd be happy to pay you of course. Can you email me about it: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com. Thanks!

    Yeah, I've started shutting the windows the last few nights (we leave them all open all summer long), but I have to open them back up during the day so The Shack will heat up! I'm not ready for winter either. I'm ready for fall and cooler than summer temperatures, but we always seem to go from heatstroke to woodstove in about a week around here!

    Hi Maria,
    Gazpacho does rule! I can't believe I went my first 40 years without it. I'm definitely planning to make up for lost time. Spicy sounds great!

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Oh that is so cute! Thanks for the laugh.

    Hi Stufsocker,
    Your version sounds wonderful. And I love the word liquidocious! : )

    Hi CJ,
    Mollie Katzen is awesome. I love all the chatty comments that go with her recipes - and she's a wonderful artist, too! I don't use her books nearly enough. One of my favorites is Still Life with Menu which is beautiful as well as delicious. I just checked on Amazon, and you can buy copies for under a dollar (plus shipping) - just click here. I just pulled my copy off the shelf the other day to look for a few recipes I've been meaning to remake and write about.

    Hi Lellie,
    You're in luck! I found a bunch of recipes for White Gazpacho online for you - just click here to check them out. : )

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  13. Ooh, good call, Susan - I think I might use my final garden tomatoes to make up one last batch of gazpacho - from your recipe here. Sounds so good!

    And what IS the story with the hard boiled egg or shrimp in the soup?

    That is not right.

    Although I have not a huge problem with olive oil. 1 1/2 cups might be excessive, but I bet it's yummy!

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  14. Yo!
    Greetings from a Spanish guy... hahaha
    As far as I know, Gazpacho is made just with tomato, cucumber, onion, green pepper, red peper and garlic, besides vinegar, oil and a pinch of salt. You can add a bit of black pepper too. (No juices, no eggs, no cilantro -it is not so common in Spain-, no canned veggies...)
    It's usually served either like that or with a small side dish consisting on small fried bread cubes, and chopped onions and peppers (red and green).
    In summer I usually have it as a drink, at lunch time. Using fridge-vegetables or putting some ice cubes make it great for those hot summer times.
    Regarding oil quantity, I kind of remember something like 1/2 cup to serve 4 people (4 mugs)
    I can talk to my grandma if you need the exact measures ;)

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  15. You're not the only one who's been doing late season gazpacho.

    When I first heard of gazpacho it sounded horrid. If not for the rave reviews of it when it was mentioned I'd not have given it a second thought... well, there was one review that made it stand out from a guy who'd a bad experience with a batch he'd been served of just chunky cucumber slush in cold water with salt and cumin.

    But having become more intrigued by raw foods, enzymes, macrobiotics, I started thinking about gazpacho a bit more. Problem is that now that I've rediscovered the beauty of good tomatoes and heirlooms I'm hard pressed to eat them any other ways than out of hand and sliced on good toast with good salt and lots of basil (I actually like the dried better, crumbled to nearly dust) with sliced onions sometimes. That was my dinner many times this summer almost to the point that I dreaded another but now wish I could have just one more week.

    Gazpacho was haunting me though. So I decided I had to try it. Except no more cucumbers! They just disappeared this year on short notice. But I did have a zucchini so I googled, found it could work and I had the other ingredients. Toms, red pepper, white onion, really good garlic, celtic sea salt. It was good. So good I wanted to do it again.

    This time though I got a wild hair when I saw a lonely leek sitting on my counter which I hadn't been able to work into my dining world. I cut a big hunk off and threw it in the blender. Then I pulled out the Italian parsley which tasted so good by itself and so fresh I just kept pulling more off, stuffing it in too. A spare Anaheim pepper? Why not?

    It was bad. Really bad.

    Unfortunately the only thing I could think to fix it was more tomatoes but seems I'd left the ones I'd picked out special so I could have more of this soup at the store (since the farmers markets are closed now). I remember now setting them down on the apple display to adjust my basket so they wouldn't get squished. After trying to tough it out (all of another two half spoonfuls) I pulled out a can of fire-roasted toms with green chilis and threw that in the blender. It worked! Totally saved it; even made it pretty good. I especially love the bite from the raw garlic.

    It's amazing how filling even just a little bit is. And really good with a moist corn bread. And it's great to hide kelp powder in (for added iodine).

    After the new confidence from that save I'm thinking of all the new ways I want to try what I think of as Veggie Smoothies. So it was cool to see that I'd opened this post without realizing it (I still don't remember doing it).

    I was already using walnut oil instead of olive. Now I want to add more cumin. Trying to figure out how I could do winter gazpachos. I'm thinking of black bean with avocado (maybe kale too). Perhaps grinding up whole walnuts in a basic batch. But for now I'm just going to experiment in small bowl sized batches with my current save adding key lime juice, balsamic, basil...

    Next summer though I know what I'm going to do with some of the lovely lemon and Armenian cucumbers. I plan to have a glass every morning!

    Thanks for listing out all the ingredients for use you'd found. I won't be using many of them but can use it as a guide for my own experimenting.

    For now I'm going to do a potato, multi-colored cauliflower, & chickpea stew to use up the rest of that poor leek. I think I could save that too with a can of fire roasted toms if need be.

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  16. Made this for dinner tonight. Too much garlic for my youngest, so she's having a grilled cheese, but the rest of us LOVED it with crumbled feta cheese on top. YUM!

    My husband DOES like soup, though he was skeptical of this cold soup concoction. He was surprised how filling it turned out to be.

    Can't wait to try some of your other recipes!

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  17. This sounds really good and I do have lots of tomatoes~

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  18. I have never made Gazpacho before, but I have always been interested in trying - I will comment again after Saturday to let you know how it went over. I will be making it for my Pastor's 50th birthday celebration and this will fit in perfectly with the mexican food theme. Thank you!

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  19. White gazpacho is called Ajoblanco and it is an amaaaazing dish... It is just made with almonds, bread, water, oil, vinegar and salt and it tastes superb with grapes or pieces of honey melon.

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