I don’t remember the first time I heard of gazpacho and I can’t remember if I’d ever even eaten it before yesterday, but yesterday, after a couple days of eating too many processed foods, my body began to crave something fresh – something alive. Usually this is when I would seek out a salad, but it’s been so hot that my thirst caused gazpacho to pop into my head.
“I’m going to make gazpacho for dinner,” I said to Carlos.
“Empacho?” he said.
“No, gazpacho,” I responded, “It’s a cold vegetable soup… from Spain, I think.”
If The National Board of Gazpacho is hiring someone in marketing, I probably wouldn’t be a very good candidate. Carlos wasn’t thrilled with my dinner idea but for reasons unknown, didn’t protest despite the unflattering description. I researched a half dozen recipes and several articles about gazpacho to get a general idea of how to make it and was undeterred by the controversy over whether to use bread crumbs or not to use bread crumbs; whether it should be smooth or chunky; whether it’s sacrilege to use tomato juice or V8 to thin the gazpacho; whether a blender or a food processor works best… You get the idea. The last time I saw such passionate debate was when I looked up guacamole recipes.
I made mental notes of what I found useful and discarded what I did not, (a good way to live life in general) and went out to buy my fresh, ripe vegetables. In the kitchen I set to work washing, chopping, measuring, and jotting down notes to myself in case my gazpacho turned out well, which I must say, it really did. The gazpacho is so beautiful and so refreshing with the perfect balance of flavors. Carlos and my boys loved it and I’m eating it again for breakfast today because those vitamin-rich vegetables woke me up better than a cup of Bustelo.
I can’t tell you whether Spaniards would turn their noses up at my gazpacho, deeming it inauthentic, but I can tell you that this is one of the best things I’ve ever made and as much as I look forward to autumn each year, this gazpacho will be one of the only things that makes me long for a hot summer day.
Señora Lopez’s Gazpacho
1 large cucumber, washed, seeded, chopped (but don’t peel)
4 large Roma tomatoes, washed, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, washed, seeded, chopped
1/4 medium red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 3/4 cups tomato juice
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. In a food processor set to chop, process the cucumber but not until smooth. Remove to a large bowl.
2. Repeat step one with the tomato, red bell pepper and onion, one by one, removing each after processing to the large bowl.
3. Mix in all remaining ingredients.
4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour or more.
5. Serve cold. (This can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.)
Optional: Serve with a dollop of sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, with slices of avocado or French bread. Some heathens even dip grilled cheese sandwiches into their gazpacho, (which sounds really good.)
Note: Gazpacho is great for making use of an over abundance of whatever is doing well in your garden, If you’ve got zucchini or other vegetables, try substituting them or adding them in!
(Credit where credit is due: This original recipe was most inspired by The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook’s Gazpacho recipe.)