Until the record-breaking heatwave hit the UK in July, I’d never been that keen on Gazpacho. When friends raved about the chilled tomato and vegetable soup from Spain, I didn’t get the appeal, and I was certainly never tempted to order it in a restaurant. All that changed when the mercury was pushing 40°C and Britain succumbed to the kind of Mediterranean temperatures that sap your energy, change your appetite, and make the thought of cooking anything hot distinctly unappealing.
Opening the fridge to see whether I could avoid a supermarket run in the heat (and to cool down a little!) I found the usual suspects in the salad drawer – tomatoes (for once deliciously ripe), peppers, and cucumber. Rather than make a salad, I realised that these could be whizzed up into a quick and effortless gazpacho along with a few other kitchen staples that are always to hand – a little bread, some good olive, a clove of garlic and a splash of (preferably Sherry) vinegar. And my goodness, it was delicious, refreshing, and the leftovers kept in the fridge for several days.
So here is how to do it…
- Approximately 900g-1kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Approximately 2 slices good quality stale white bread (100g),
- 75-150ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2tbsp sherry vinegar
- Salt & pepper to taste.
- Soak the bread in water for 20-30 minutes, then squeeze it out.
- Put all the vegetables, the bread, garlic and 75ml of the olive oil into a blender (or a food processor will work if you don’t have a blender). Blend until smooth.
- Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt & pepper.
- At this point you can add more olive oil – pour it in slowly while the blender is running. Check for taste and texture – you can add a little iced water or ice cubes if you want to thin it down a little
- For a completely smooth soup, stain through a fine sieve
- Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
Serve your gazpacho with a swirl of olive oil.
You can also add some toppings to each bowl – for instance chopped black olives, diced cherry tomatoes, red peppers and cucumber. Finely sliced Serrano ham is also great, and some people like to add chopped hard boiled egg.