Sunday, 23 June 2013

Cool and fresh...Gazpacho

Gazpacho - a godsend on a hot day. Cool, refreshing, and with the added bonus of being healthy, even non-tomato lovers (and that includes me) can enjoy this cold soup in sultry heat.




Tomatoes - yuk. Really, I cannot stand a raw tomato. The seeds, that wateriness that seeps into bread and ruins an otherwise perfectly wonderful sandwich. I really do not like them... unless they come in the form of Gazpacho.





My first summer in Spain confirmed me as a Gazpacho convert. The fresh, cool soup was like nectar on a hot summer's day. It fills you up without making you feel even more sluggish in the heat of the day. I may be in Italy now, but Gazpacho remains a firm favourite. With two weeks of hot days behind me, and many more to come, I gathered the ingredients and headed into the kitchen.

This is truly a seasonal dish and if you are lucky enough to have the ingredients growing in pots, tubs or in your own veg plot then it double ticks the slow food criteria. Only having been in Italy for 5 weeks, my veg plot (or weed plot if I look away for 5 minutes) is not yet ready to provide me with the goods, but I do take care, even on my miniscule budget, to try and buy local produce.

The added bonus of this soup...no cooking. Just skinning, chopping, blending and chilling. Easy peasy!

Recipe

Ingredients
As is often the way there's a myriad of variations on the Gazpacho theme. I like mine to have a good cucumber and pepper taste. You can vary yours by adding more or less cucumber and pepper as your taste-buds prefer.

3lbs of ripe tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic - roughly chopped
4 spring onions  - roughly chopped. Save a little for the garnish which will be finely chopped.
(I did not have enough spring onions in stock having used them in salads during the week - duh! I had to bolster the onion quota with a 1/2 standard onion. But beware - too strong an onion will overpower the soup).
1 large red pepper - roughly chopped. Save a little for the garnish which will be finely chopped.
1 large cucumber - skinned and roughly chopped. Once again, save a little for the garnish which will be finely chopped.
olive oil
white wine vinegar

Stale bread for croutons (optional)

Method

  1. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for about a minute. Carefully remove them, cool in cold water and then remove the skins.
  2. Halve and remove the seeds, then roughly chop the remainder of the tomatoes.
  3. Blend the tomatoes, cucumber, onions, pepper and garlic in a blender. Whizz until smooth.
  4. Add a little oil and vinegar, blend again. Taste. Continue this until you have the taste you like. Personally I use more oil and less vinegar.
  5. Put into a bowl (non-metallic) and put in the fridge to cool.
Just chillin' !

If you are making croutons:
  1. Cube the stale bread.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a pan.
  3. Fry the bread in the oil until golden in colour. 
  4. Remove from the heat and put to one side.
When the soup is cool, or you cannot wait any longer, serve in bowls. Sprinkle some of the finely chopped pepper, spring onion and cucumber over the top (and croutons if you made them). ENJOY!

The only time a tomato is heavenly!

Hints
If the soup is too thick add a little water.




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