Lots of ripe tomatoes on my kitchen counter right now. It was slow ripening for the tomatoes this year. It was slow. Now, in these very hot fall days I’ve got an overflow of perfectly red, almost too ripe tomatoes. Almost too ripe, so ripe you can just peel them with your fingers, that’s how you want your tomatoes for gazpacho.
For a good amount of gazpacho, enough for a large gathering or to simply keep in the fridge for a refreshing drink on a hot day (a hot fall day here) you’ll need:
- 2 generous lbs. of ultra ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (I don’t bother seeding them)
- a small cucumber, peeled
- a small sweet pepper, green or red (I prefer red), seeded
- 1/2 a small onion
- 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of extra virgin olive
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar (red wine, balsamic or sherry) depending on the acidity of the tomatoes.
- salt to taste
- the crumb of a thick slice of day old country style bread, soaked in cold water (not more than 1/2 lb.)
- cold water
- a few ice cubes
For the garnish you’ll need extra tomato, pepper, cucumber and bread.
Blend all the vegetables, the bread, the oil, and salt together until very smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, taste, and add some more if you feel you need a bit more acidity or a bit more punch. Chill in the refrigerator. That’s it, this blend is your gazpacho. It is really that easy but you can play a bit more with it depending on how you’d like to serve it.
You can serve it in one of two ways, as a soup with garnishes–gazpacho at its most classic– and as a drink, great as a snack for the kids while they run a round playing in a hot summer afternoon.
To serve gazpacho as a soup, you will transfer the gazpacho from the blender into a soup tureen and put the tureen in the refrigerator to chill. You will then dice your extra tomato, pepper, cucumber and bread and place each one of them in their own separate bowl. When it is time to serve, you add a few ice cubes to the tureen and stir to make sure the gazpacho is really cold. Then adjust the thickness of the gazpacho with extra cold water if needed. There is no one ideal thickness for a gazpacho. It has to be evenly smooth, but some people like it thicker others like it thinner. It’s up to you and your family to determine what your home style is going to be. If you choose to thin it with water adjust the salt accordingly. Finally, you bring it to the table with the bowls of diced vegetables and bread so that everybody can garnish their gazpacho to their own taste.
To serve it as a drink you need your gazpacho much thinner than you need it to eat as a soup. You achieve that by adding a lot more cold water at the end, by omitting the bread crumb altogether or both. Again, if you add water you’ll need to adjust the salt accordingly. Now all you need is a bunch of thirsty kids running around your yard with a soccer ball and you are spending a little afternoon vacation in Spain without leaving your home. Growing up in Spain I never saw adults drinking gazpacho. It seemed that the adults ate it at the table with a spoon and garnishes, kids drank it in a quick break from their games. Maybe I was not paying attention to what the adults were up to…
These days I enjoy gazpacho in my California home, for lunch on a hot afternoon, sitting at the table, with each diced garnish served in its own separate bowl.