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Gazpacho Soup Recipe

Gazpacho soup is a traditional peasant dish from Spain and Portugal. Known today as a chilled tomato soup, it actually started out in pre-Columbus days as a simple bread soup or stew. Tomatoes and bell peppers were unknown in Europe until Columbus crossed the Atlantic, but these were both quickly added to most gazpacho soup recipes. While many modern recipes leave it out, it is actually the bread that makes it a Gazpacho, and not the tomatoes. In fact, there are still some regional variations that skip the tomatoes.

Having said that, there are a lot of people that want low-carb, tasty food with lots of fresh vegetables, so skipping the bread from this recipe is not altogether a bad thing. After all, adjusting recipes to suit your personal tastes or ingredient availability is exactly how new traditions are started.

This gazpacho recipe is so basic, so easy to make, that it is bound to be a regular addition to your summer menu. And this is one of the few recipes that I have that I actually prefer in the vegetarian style. Adding meat to this soup will detract from it, in my opinion. Even the broth is entirely tomato and garlic-based, and because it is chilled, no meat stock will ever improve its flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

8 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes (Roma are especially good)
1 green bell pepper, seeded
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 cucumber
2 cloves garlic
1 slice of bread (stale bread is okay)
1/4 cup olive oil
slash of vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Roughly chop the vegetables, removing the stems and seeds. Skins are perfectly acceptable in gazpacho soup.

2. Tear up the bread into chunks.

3. Mince or finely chop the garlic, or run it through a garlic press.

4. Add all the ingredients to a food processor, and puree until completely mixed. Do not over-process, as you want a soup, not a juice. Do this in batches if necessary.

5. If you do not have a food processor, chop the vegetables more finely, and process in a blender.

Notes

This gazpacho soup recipe is so basic that I almost always add something to it. Fresh herbs are the best addition, and I usually add cilantro, parsley or basil to it, or some combination of these.

Also, you cannot always count on the amount of liquid that you will get from the vegetables. If the soup is too runny, you can add a bit more bread to thicken it up. If it is too thick, you can add water, or for more flavor add some tomato juice instead. For a real hit of flavor, add a small can of tomato paste. It is the tomato flavor in this gazpacho soup that makes a meat stock completely unnecessary, so don’t skimp on the flavor here.

Tips and Techniques

If it is the tomatoes that give it its flavor, it is the bread that gives this soup its body. Good, thick bread is agreat addition to many a soup, whether as a garnish, for dipping or as a main ingredient.

If you find that you end up with a lot of stale bread, try using it as a thickener in your soup instead of flour or cornstarch. Tear the bread into chunks, add a splash of olive oil, and let it soak until you can mash it with a fork. If you have a mortar and pestle you can use that too.

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