Gazpacho | A Cool Soup for Summer

It’s summertime and chilled soup is on the menu. A cool bowl of refreshing gazpacho is a delicious way to beat the heat and impress your dinner guests. Gazpacho is prepared in numerous ways: bright red and chunky or pureed smooth and orange in color. Naturally, it all depends on what ingredients are used to prepare this Spanish dish.

Gazpacho originated in the Andalusia region of Spain and was originally made with bread, olive oil, water, garlic and vinegar. Tomatoes and vegetables, generally raw, came later.

Initially, I wasn’t a fan of the chilled soup. I’d tried gazpacho a number of times but it usually reminded me of cold ratatouille — too chunky, too many tomatoes and overly spiced. On a trip to Spain my feelings about gazpacho changed. The Spanish gazpacho I had was delicious smooth and creamy, orange in color — the peppers used were yellow and orange — and rich with Spanish olive oil.

Chilled gazpacho is a great addition to any summer dinner. It is light, delicious and cooling, as well as healthy and low in calories.

I set out on a mission to find a traditional recipe. While traveling from Barcelona to the Catalan city of Girona, I asked the bus driver, Jorge, for his family’s traditional Spanish gazpacho recipe. I pulled my pen out and he rattled off a handful of fresh ingredients that his grandmother used. It was simple: three large ripe tomatoes; one small onion; two peppers, one orange and one yellow or two of each; one large cucumber; Spanish olive oil; red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Use water to thin the soup to a desired consistency and chill.

As soon as I returned home, I pulled out my blender and — voila — I’d made the best gazpacho ever. As they do in Spain, I served the soup with lots of homemade croutons and drizzled a bit of Spanish olive oil on top.

Many people add fresh garlic to their gazpacho, which is also delicious. Some variations include adding cumin and sherry vinegar and serve with toppings of diced apple, bell pepper, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs or ham. Other recipes blend soaked bread into the soup.

Gazpacho is continually morphing. A fruit gazpacho can be prepared with watermelon or strawberries. Roast or grill the tomato and peppers beforehand to add a unique flavor to the soup. Make it spicy with green chilies or jalapeños or add zing with salsa. Add lime, cilantro and green onions to the classic recipe. For a total overhaul, use carrots, celery and other vegetables — whatever is in the fridge. Personally, I love adding capers.

Green gazpacho is another twist on the traditional version. Add spinach or watercress and tomatillos instead of red tomatoes. Add an avocado and some yogurt to make it creamy or goat cheese and nuts — or tropical fruit.

Katherine Hill, the Tahoe Weekly editor, plans to make a gazpacho with leftovers from her frig: carrots, watermelon, lime, lemon, celery, red onion, basil and sweet bell peppers.

Chilled gazpacho is a great addition to any summer dinner. It is light, delicious and cooling, as well as healthy and low in calories.

Share your favorite gazpacho recipe at facebook.com/TheTahoeWeekly.

Gazpacho by Priya Hutner – Serves 4

4 tomatoes, quartered
2 orange or red peppers, quartered & seeded
1 cucumber, peeled & quartered
1 small onion, quartered
1 T olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
¼ Cup water
Salt & pepper to taste

In a blender add ¼ Cup of olive oil in blender. Add onion, red pepper, tomato and cucumbers and blend. Add vinegar, salt and pepper and water, as needed to desired consistency. Chill for at least 1 hour, but longer is better. I recommend 4 to 6 hours.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and croutons.

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Priya Hutner
Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience. Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks. | priya@tahoethisweek.com