If you’ve never eaten a chilled soup before, you’re going to just have to go with me on this one. It might seem very strange, or even off-putting, to those who have never tried it before, but believe me when I say that you are missing out and need to rectify that ASAP. Gazpacho, a southern Spanish tomato soup, is probably the most famous of the chilled soup family and it is one of my all-time favourite recipes. There are slight variations in ingredients and methods between the recipes available (some including peppers or bread, some soaking the ingredients overnight before blending, some adding stock or basil at the end), but this simple recipe is the one that my family has always used, passed down from my mum’s mum, and it is the best there is (unbiased family opinion).
Gazpacho makes use of the fresh, young allium produce that are available during the late summer. If you can’t get your hands on any young red onions or “green” garlic, as it is sometimes called, then you can use the regular varieties though you may want slightly reduce the quantity you add to the soup as it will be stronger and sharper in flavour. Err on the side of caution, since you can always add more in after the first blend, but you can’t take it back out at the end! This is the perfect seasonal recipe for a light lunch or supper, or to serve as a starter at a summer dinner party. However, I can also highly recommend having a large bowl of the soup the day after a night of excess – it’s zingy and refreshing, is reminiscent of comfort-food-hero hot tomato soup, has a high water content and is packed with vitamins.
One year ago:
– Refreshing watermelon salad
Ingredients (makes 4-6 servings)
450g ripe tomatoes
½ a cucumber
1 medium young red onion
3 cloves young garlic
450ml tomato juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Green bell pepper and breadsticks or croutons to serve
1. Begin by peeling and deseeding the tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to plunge the tomatoes into a pan of boiling water for 30 seconds.
Remove and drain – the skin may already have started to blister – and leave to cool for a few minutes.
The skin should now very easily peel away, and then the tomatoes can be cut in half and the seeds either cut or scraped out.
2. Roughly chop the cucumber (including the peel and seeds), red onion and garlic and place in a large bowl.
3. Add the peeled and deseeded tomatoes to the bowl, roughly chopped.
4. Pour in the tomato juice, and add the olive oil, white wine vinegar and a generous season of salt and pepper.
5. Use a hand blender to blend the ingredients together. I like to keep the soup just a little bit chunky, but you can blend until you have the consistency you want – for a very smooth texture you will need to pass the mixture through a sieve. Taste the soup for seasoning (including vinegar, onion and garlic, not just salt and pepper) and adjust if necessary.
6. Chill the soup for at least 2 or 3 hours – this step is very important, so don’t skip it unless you are incredibly short on time, in which case having the tomato juice already chilled in the fridge is a top tip from my mum.
Serve the soup chilled, in chilled bowls if you’re feeling extra fancy. Top with diced green pepper and, traditionally, homemade croutons either baked or fried in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. At home we always just broke up breadsticks to scatter over the soup, which is far less effort and a little healthier too. This time we spotted a box of olive oil crostini at the shops, which worked perfectly too.
This soup will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 or 6 days, the flavours mingling and only improving with time.
Have you eaten chilled soups before, and if so what is your favourite type? Do you have your own gazpacho recipe? – I’d love to hear about it below!…