Cooking with Mandy: Gazpacho

In Food by Mandy Kaewsowatana0 Comments

Ahh, gazpacho – fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes straight from the farm to your bowl. Cool refreshing, and overflowing with healthy veggies, this chilled tomato soup is sure to keep those summer vibes coming.

When the temperature outside is blistering hot, eating a bowl of piping hot soup sounds like cruel and unusual punishment. We usually start meals with crisp, cold salads, so why not try a chilled soup instead? That’s exactly what gazpacho is, a chilled soup, traditionally made with tomatoes, and a plethora of other raw veggies.

Gazpacho is perfect for putting all your CSA vegetables to good use! This week, in our CSA share, we received quite a few tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and zucchini, so we tossed all of these into our summer soup. Gazpacho does take a bit of time to prepare, but your taste buds will thank you for all the hard work.

While the soup is almost entire raw, meaning nothing is actually cooked, the tomatoes do have to be flash steamed or boiled in order to remove the skins. Removing the skins from the fruits gives the soup a smoother, texture and flavor, as sometimes the skins tend to be slightly bitter. You will first need to score the tomatoes with a small “x” either on the top or bottom. As the tomatoes steam, the skin begins to separate from the flesh at the small incisions, making it much easier for you to peel the rest of the skin once the tomatoes are cooled. After you skin the tomatoes, you need only to remove the seeds, or as much of the seeds as possible, and then finely chop the tomatoes for your soup.

Once you’ve established your tomato base, the next step is to dice up all the rest of your flavor components: bell pepper, onion, cucumber or zucchini, jalapeno (if you like some heat!), celery, or whatever other vegetable you would like! For the liquid portion of the soup, a high-quality tomato or vegetable juice, such as V-8, works best. A pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil, and a splash of red wine vinegar, and you’ve got gazpacho! You could eat the soup right away, but it would not be nearly as delicious as if you refrigerated it for at least 4 hours or overnight. The longer the soup chills, the more the flavors meld together and marinate.

Some people like their gazpacho smooth, while others like it chunky. If you prefer a chunky gazpacho, you’ll want to finely chop all of your vegetables so that each bite delivers a healthy crunch of each veggie. If you’re one of those smooth soup lovers, then no need to worry about chopping size when prepping, as you can simply puree the soup using an immersion blender or a regular blender or food processor.

Top your gazpacho with freshly diced avocado, fresh corn shucked off the cobb, and a drizzle of more olive oil. If you want to make your gazpacho a full meal, you could always add garbanzo beans or grilled shrimp for some added protein.

Here’s our recipe for summer tomato gazpacho! (We like ours chunky, the directions below indicate to finely chop each vegetable. For the onion, garlic, jalapeno, we recommend mincing these, which means an even smaller chop than the other veggies.)

Gazpacho

2.5-3 pounds fresh vine-ripened tomatoes

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 large bell pepper, red, orange, yellow, or white, finely chopped

1 cucumber (seeded), or zucchini, finely chopped

½ jalapeno pepper, minced

1 small red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

4 cups tomato juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. While the water heats up, score the tomatoes with a small “x” on either the top or the bottom. Only score the surface to cut through the skin, trying not to cut too deep into the flesh. Once the water has reached a low simmer, gently drop in the tomatoes. Allow them to boil for 2-3 minutes, or until you see the skins beginning to peel back at the incision site. Use a spider or a strainer to fetch the tomatoes from the pot and set aside to cool.

While the tomatoes cool, prepare the rest of your vegetables, finely chopping or mincing as needed. Toss all of the veggies in a large bowl. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off (they should be loose from the cooking) and discard. Then, cut each tomato into large slices and remove and discard the seeds. Finely chop the tomatoes and add them to the bowl with the rest of the vegetables. Season with salt and black pepper. Pour in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and tomato juice. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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