(Apologizes in advance for the lack of pictures. I’ll go back later and make some to photograph for you. I had a special request for the soup and thought I’d post it right away.)
Make gazpacho with the sweetest juiciest tomatoes on a hot summer day & it’ll reward you with its cool, refreshing flavor.
There are tons of different versions of this cold Spanish tomato soup. I think of it like salsa soup, but I’ve also heard it called “pureed salad”. Classic gazpacho recipes call for bread to thicken it, but more and more I see recipes omitting the bread, favoring instead just the simple fresh flavors of summer to come through. Also, traditionally, gazpacho doesn’t have any chiles in it, but I like the little addition of some spice to kick it up a notch. You may add the chile or omit it to your liking.
The point of gazpacho is to have something tasty and no-cook on those awful hot humid days. So, I understand if you don’t want to bring a pot of water to a boil to peel the tomatoes. You really don’t have to. I’ll give you the instructions, but know that if you feel like skipping this step, you can. If you peel the tomatoes, you’ll have a creamier softer soup. If you leave the peel on, you’ll have more texture.
To peel the tomatoes*: bring a medium pot of water to boil. Core the tomatoes, and drop into the boiling water a few at a time, for about 10 seconds, just long enough to loosen their skins. Scoop the tomatoes out of the water with a slotted spoon, and continue with the remaining tomatoes. Rinse the boiled tomatoes under cool water. Then slip off their skins. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, and, over the strainer, squeeze out the juice and the seeds. Save the juice to add to the soup, and discard the seeds.
Don’t blend the tomatoes too much in the blender or food processor. It’ll introduce too much air to the tomatoes, and they’ll turn a frothy pink. It’s best to do most of your chopping by hand so that the veggies are almost pureed.
If you want to have a “doctor your own soup” event, put small bowls of garnishes out. The garnishes can include, white onion, scallions, green pepper, cucumber, boiled eggs, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, or croutons.
Cook’s notes: If you’d like a smoother, more liquidy soup, add up at 1 cup tomato juice. If the soup is too acidic, add a few pinches of sugar to balance it.
2 cloves garlic, minced
small red onion, diced
1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
5 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, finely chopped (peeled* if desired)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
sugar, to taste
In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the garlic, half of the onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, olive oil, vinegar, jalapeno, salt, and pepper.
Pulse in the food processor until all ingredients are well blended. It won’t be totally pulverized and smooth (otherwise you risk that pink frothy stuff I mentioned before); it’ll have a nice texture and pretty colored flecks throughout.
Pour the soup into a large bowl. Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding salt and sugar if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (this chills the soup and allows the flavors to meld). Serve in chilled bowls.
Remove the soup from the ‘fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with remaining diced vegetables (and any additional mix-ins that you want).