Gazpacho is one of my favourite things when local fresh tomatoes are available right off the vine. I have stuck very close to the authentic ingredients, but I have to admit, I like my gazpacho smooth without any graininess from the bread crumbs. I also like it to be slightly warmer than ice cold. That’s when I think the flavours are at their peak of summery goodness.
This can be a rustic dish, served before an outdoor meal of steak off the grill, or it can be a refined luncheon, depending on how you like it. You can leave the texture coarse and add rough cut vegetables for garnish, or purée it into a silky, glossy liquid with a dollop of crème fraîche and a drizzle of chive oil to contrast the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar. However you like it, you will spend the rest of the year waiting for the hot days of August to make gazpacho at the peak of tomato season.
- large mixing bowl, food processor or blender and fine mesh sieve
- 3 slices stale white bread
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 5 large very ripe tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 green onions, white parts only
- 2 cloves peeled garlic
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- tomato juice optional, may be used to adjust consistency
- crème fraîche optional, may be used to annoy purists
- fresh parsley leaves for garnish optional
- chive oil for drizzling optional
- Peel and chop cucumber. Chop tomatoes. Chop bell pepper, removing the pulpy ribs and seeds. Slice the whites of the green onions. Tear bread into small pieces. Reserve some cucumber and other vegetables for garnish, if you like.
- Place all ingredients except crème fraîche and tomato juice in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix by hand, getting the bread well soaked with the juices. Allow to stand for half an hour in the refrigerator.
- Add soaked ingredients to food processor. Pulse and then blend until smooth. This may have to be done in batches, depending on the size of the food processor bowl.
- When all ingredients are well blended, force the purée through a the sieve until only skins, pulp and seeds remain. Dispose of the remnants, which should be quite dry and juiceless. The strained soup should have a creamy consistency when stirred together.
- Taste for seasoning and consistency. Adjust with salt and pepper and add tomato juice if the soup is too thick for your liking. Add a drizzle of olive oil, if needed.
- Chill before serving to cellar temperature (cooler than room temperature, but not ice cold). Serve with optional garnishes and toast.