It’s the beginning of the second weekend of the Vuelta and we’re in the scorching south of Spain, in Andalucía. To my mind, it can mean only one dish – a freshly made, ice-cold gazpacho. This perfect hot-weather soup is simply a salad in liquid form, which means it’s one of the easiest dishes to make. All you need to get started is a blender or food processor and some super-tasty, juicy tomatoes.
I make a litre or two of this most weeks to enjoy immediately after I get back from my morning ride. It’s delicious, cooling, contains at least three of your five-a-day and is low in calories – what’s not to like? Of course, it’s another of those recipes where there are more versions than Spaniards. I’m just adding to that pile with my very own take on it.
Ingredients (serves four)
- 1-1½kg (2-2¼ lbs) sun-ripened, juicy fresh tomatoes
- 3 sticks celery
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 spring onions (scallions)
- 1 large cucumber
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp Tabasco (optional)
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Roughly chop the vegetables and whirl in a blender or food processor in batches until they’re all reduced to a fine rubble.
2. Pour into a large glass bowl, add the oil, vinegar and condiments to taste. Cover the bowl with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave it in the fridge for at least eight hours for the flavours to develop.
3. To serve, pass the mixture through a coarse sieve or food mill. Test the seasoning, pour into a glass jug and return to the fridge to chill.
4. Serve either as I have below in a long chilled glass with a stick of celery or ladle it into bowls and garnish with whatever takes your fancy.
Sheree’s Handy Hints
1. The tomatoes are the star of the show. If yours aren’t quite as ripe and juicy as you’d like you might have to top up the gazpacho with some good quality bottled or fresh tomato juice.
2. I only ever use red peppers in gazpacho simply because I prefer the taste.
3. If you’d like the soup to have a thicker consistency soak a few pieces of stale bread in water, squeeze dry and add them to the blender along with the vegetables or add back some of the sieved rubble.
4. I often add fresh watermelon juice to the soup and a further teaspoon of tabasco to counter the sweetness along with a tablespoon or two of freshly squeezed lime juice. This is delicious served in a bowl over a pile of white crab meat or a few plump juicy prawns and cubed avocado.
5. To give the soup an Italian twist, add freshly torn basil leaves and pour over torn chunks of burrata (a yummy mix of fresh buffalo mozzarella and crème fraiche).
6. There are of course both white and green versions of gazpacho, but let’s leave those for another Musette.