Monday, July 4, 2011

Gazpacho--This Time the Red Version

On such hot days as we experience right now in DC, chilled soups are real hit at my home. Two of them compete for the top spot. With my kids, Polish cold beet soup chlodnik is absolutely number one--my younger son can eat daily--and Spanish gazpacho is the runner up. Ever since the heat wave struck, I have been juggling the two of them every other day.

Personally, I prefer Gazpacho, as I have already had my share of beet soup. Also, Gazpacho is really a no-hustle five-minute soup that can be made in a blender. It is light and very healthy filled with all kinds raw vegetables. Now, when the amazing tomatoes of different shapes and sizes are in full season, whenever I look at them my first thought is to serve them with mozzarella and basil, or to make a gazpacho soup.

Gazpacho has been so popular that I am sure many people have their own version of it, and there is not much to change in it. I recently watched a famous DC chef José Andrés adding sparkling water to his gazpacho, but somehow I always forget to try his suggestion. I heard that some also spice it up by adding Tabasco, but I do not think the original Spanish Gazpacho is that spicy.

I have never eaten gazpacho in Spain, but elsewhere in Europe I tried gazpacho that is sold in carton containers, like orange juice. It was unbelievably good, and although not freshly made it was still delicious. Last time i made my gallon of gazpacho and left for Paris. When I came back a week later, gazpacho was still very good--vinegar and oil preserved it perfectly. (No wonder that that gazpacho from the box can also taste so good.) So I guarantee that the version of gazpacho I make can be stored in a refrigerator for at least a week.

(Serves eight)

6 medium ripe tomatoes,
2 medium green peppers,
1 English cucumber,
1 medium red onion,
3 garlic cloves,
1/2 cup extra virgin oil,
1/2 cup white vinegar (sherry vinegar, if possible),
23 oz tomato juice (about 3 cups)
1 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp ground pepper,
celery seeds to taste.

1. Peel off cucumber and onion.
2. Remove seeds from peppers,
3. Cut all the vegetables in cubes and place in a food processor.

4. Run the machine until vegetables are almost puréed but still have some texture. I like it that way but if you prefer it smoother, you can purée them entirely.

5. Pour in the tomato juice in a large tall bowl or a pot. Add vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, celery seeds and all the puréed vegetables.
6. Mix all well with a large spoon and chill for minimum 4 hours, but I think the soup is the best on the second day when it is very chilled.

Serve with basil leaves and croutons if you like.