On a recent tour through the Castilla y Leon region of Spain observing the 500th anniversary of Santa (Saint) Teresa’s birth, I consumed a few gallons of the local specialty, gazpacho. This classic summertime cold soup is basically tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables blended together with various seasonings and spices.
What differentiates each chef’s interpretation is what additional ingredients they add, such as celery, onions, watermelon (!!) etc., and what chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, mint or green onions (or tortilla strips!) garnish the top. It can also be served as a smooth, thick, thin or chunky dish. You can see the gazpacho is truly a versatile vehicle for showcasing the fresh abundance of your summer garden.
Here’s a spicy version I’ll be serving at Hudson Valley Dessert Company this summer:
6 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 large cucumbers peeled, coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large red onion, peeled & coarsely chopped
4 ribs of celery, chopped
1 head of garlic – roasted (cut in half around the equator, drizzle with oil, wrap in aluminum foil and bake @ 350 for 18 minutes. When cool, squeeze garlic out.)
1 bunch parsley, chopped, plus some whole leaves for garnish
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
4 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS Tabasco (or to taste)
Two 46-ounce jars tomato or V-8 juice
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Finely chopped yellow, or orange bell peppers and green onions for garnish
Put first 13 ingredients in a large container. Using an immersion blender (or using a counter-top blender in batches) blend to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings, chill and serve. (Don’t forget the garnish!) This makes approximately 1 ½ gals of soup. Don’t panic – it keeps for a few days refrigerated – but, believe me, this will go quickly for a big party. Or, the recipe can be halved.
Tip: Any leftovers can be used to make wicked Bloody Marys!