Tomatoes are now at their best, especially if you can get them fresh at the farmer’s market. And what better way to highlight some of the best of summer than to put these wonderful fruits to use to create one of the season’s best recipes, gazpacho. There are many recipes for this cold soup, but let us do some exploration.
For years, we have used the recipe from the little cookbook that came with my first Cuisinart food processor. In it is a recipe for gazpacho from Barbara Kafka: This recipe has become a summer staple—best when the tomatoes are at their best. Even though this could be made the year round, somehow, it evokes Summer and farm stand tomatoes. It is a chunky soup that can be made as spicy or as mild as one wants, with the use of jalapenos or hot sauce or both. I like it garlicky, and so sometimes I use extra cloves to make it reek! Here is the recipe:
Barbara Kafka’s Gazpacho, slightly modified
1/2 sweet white onion, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 firm medium cucumbers, peeled and cut in pieces
2 small green bell peppers, seeded and cut in eights
6 medium to large tomatoes (ripe and fresh from the farm if possible), cored, cut in eights. Kafka says to peel them, but I don’t think it is necessary.
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup tomato juice (or more) We tend to use V-8 instead.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon chili powder or chopped chili pepper of choice, such as jalapeno or serrano.
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Optional (but I think necessary) 2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro finely chopped
Using the food processor, chop the onion with the metal blade with pulses to create a fine dice. Transfer the onion to a bowl. Do the same with the cucumbers, and then the green peppers, adding them to the bowl after processing. Process 5 of the tomatoes to a fine dice, and transfer to the bowl. Process the last tomato with the garlic, tomato or V-8 juice, olive oil and chili powder (or chili pepper) until a smooth liquid is formed.
Combine the liquid and the chopped vegetables with some salt and pepper, and chill for at least several hours before serving.
Adjust seasoning just before serving. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.
The spice level of this recipe can be adjusted by the amount of chili pepper used. I like to use a serrano pepper, but one could even use a Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper, but it might overwhelm the taste of the soup. As with any chili pepper, the spice level will be much increased if you use the ribs and seeds of the pepper as well.
Several weeks ago, Julia Moskin published a recipe in the NY Times for a blended, non-chunky gazpacho: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017577-best-gazpacho. I tried it and liked it, so here is the recipe.
Julia Moskin’s Best Gazpacho
- About 2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and roughly cut into chunks
- 1 Italian frying (cubanelle) pepper or another long, light green pepper, such as Anaheim, cored, seeded and roughly cut into chunks
- 1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled and roughly cut into chunks
- 1 small mild onion (white or red), peeled and roughly cut into chunks
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, more to taste
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste, plus more for drizzling
- Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender or, if using a hand blender, in a deep bowl. (If necessary, work in batches.) Blend at high speed until very smooth, at least 2 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
- With the motor running, add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture will turn bright orange or dark pink and become smooth and emulsified, like a salad dressing. If it still seems watery, drizzle in more olive oil until texture is creamy.
- Strain the mixture through a strainer or a food mill, pushing all the liquid through with a spatula or the back of a ladle. Discard the solids. Transfer to a large pitcher (preferably glass) and chill until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Before serving, adjust the seasonings with salt and vinegar. If soup is very thick, stir in a few tablespoons ice water. Serve in glasses, over ice if desired. A few drops of olive oil on top are a nice touch.
This is a very easy soup to make. However, the America’s Test Kitchen version of a creamy gazpacho is, to my mind, a more complex and deeper tasting soup.
Because this recipe uses salt to enhance the flavor of less than perfect tomatoes, one can use store bought tomatoes. As ATK states:
In the States, the classic -“liquid salsa” style of gazpacho reigns supreme. But in Spain, the birthplace of gazpacho, a variety of styles abound.
The most popular type by far comes from Andalusia, the southernmost region of the country. It starts with the same vegetables as its chunky cousin, but is blended with bread to give it some body. The result is a creamy, complex soup. But unless you have fresh, flavorful vegetables, in particular fresh, ripe tomatoes, this soup can be unremarkable and bland.
So how could we ensure a flavorful gazpacho if we had to rely on supermarket tomatoes? In a word, salt. Salting gave our tomatoes-even mid-winter specimens-a deep, full flavor. Figuring the same process could only improve the cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers, we salted them as well. To maximize the flavor of our soup even more, we soaked the bread in a portion of the vegetables’ exuded liquid, rather than water. With a garnish of chopped vegetables, fresh herbs, and drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar, this Spanish classic can be enjoyed any time of the year.
For ideal flavor, allow the gazpacho to sit in the refrigerator overnight before serving. Red wine vinegar can be substituted for the sherry vinegar. Although we prefer to use kosher salt in this soup, half the amount of table salt can be used. Serve the soup with additional extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, ground black pepper, and diced vegetables for diners to season and garnish their own bowls as desired.
Creamy Gazpacho Andaluz
Author: America’s Test Kitchen
Recipe Type: America’s Test Kitchen (PBS), Soups, Spanish
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, (about 6 medium) cored
1 small cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded
1 medium green bell pepper, halved, cored and seeded
1 small red onion, peeled and halved
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
1 small serrano chili, stemmed and halved lengthwise
1 to taste Kosher salt
1 slice high-quality white sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley, chives, or basil leaves
1 to taste Ground black pepper
1. Roughly chop 2 pounds of tomatoes, half of cucumber, half of bell pepper, and half of onion and place in large bowl. Add garlic, chili, and 1½ teaspoons salt; toss until well combined. Set aside.
Cut remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper into ¼-inch dice; place vegetables in medium bowl. Mince remaining onion and add to diced vegetables. Toss with ½ teaspoon salt and transfer to fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Set aside 1 hour.
2. Transfer drained diced vegetables to medium bowl and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid (there should be about ¼ cup) and soak 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to roughly chopped vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.
3. Transfer half of vegetable-bread mixture to blender and process 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in ¼ cup oil and continue to blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain soup through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, using back of ladle or rubber spatula to press soup through strainer. Repeat with remaining vegetable-bread mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil.
4. Stir vinegar, minced herb, and half of diced vegetables into soup and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours to chill completely and develop flavors. Serve, passing remaining diced vegetables, olive oil, sherry vinegar, and black pepper separately.
Jose Andres has his own take on gazpacho.
“This soup is a summertime staple in my house. I keep a big pitcher of it in my refrigerator so I’m always ready to pour a few cups on a hot day for friends and family. If you want to be original, try using ripe yellow and green tomatoes from your local farmers markets.
I make this in my blender, with filling up the blender container 3 quarters of the way with cut tomatoes, cucumbers (with the seeds cored out) and about 1/2 of a green pepper (seeds and ribs removed), 2 garlic cloves, and the other quarter is the water, olive oil, sherry and sherry vinegar. I then blend everything together to a smooth puree.”
Andalucian cold tomato soup
Author: Jose Andres
Source: “Made in Spain”
Web Page: http://www.josemadeinspain.com/recipes/andaluciaColdTomato.htm
An elegant and authentic Andalucian Gazpacho by Jose Andres
Recipe Type: Appetizers, Great Chefs (From Pbs), Soups, Spanish, Spanish
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 lbs ripe plum tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup Sherry vinegar
1/2 cup Oloroso sherry
3/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices rustic bread, 1 inch thick slices
1/4 cup spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 each cucumber, diced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
to taste sea salt
1. To make the soup, combine the cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, sherry, olive oil and 2 cups of water in a food processor or blender. Puree the ingredients until everything is well blended into a thick pink liquid. Pour the gazpacho through a medium-hole strainer into a pitcher. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. When cutting the cucumber, remove the seeds with an apple corer, and save the round cylinders of seeds to be used as a garnish.
2. For the garnish, preheat the oven to 450 degree F. Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes and toss in a mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Set the croutons aside to cool.
3. To assemble, cut the cucumber cylinders into about 1/2 inch lengths. Place them in the bottom of the soup bowls, and distribute the diced bell peppers in the bowls as well. Add the soup and top with croutons, and drizzle with 2 tbs of olive oil.
The Andres recipe is a little different from the ATK recipe. Both are quite good.
Now, this summer, I tried an experiment. I took the Kafka recipe, and char-broiled the peppers, and the cucumbers. I removed the charred skins from the bell and chili pepper (I used a jalapeno), and then made the soup with the same technique as the original. The result was interesting, with a smoky character that was pleasant.
However, the end result with all the grilling and the peeling was not enough different to justify the modification to the original Kafka recipe; so for a chunky gazpacho, the Kafka recipe remains supreme. I like the creamy andulucian versions a lot, and they are a nice counterpoint to the typical salsa gazpacho recipes. It is up to you. My solution: try them all!