Cooking traditional Spanish dishes at home: Gazpacho

February 26, 2013
By

For this week’s food blog, I made gazpacho. This has by far been the simplest dish, but simple does not take away from taste. Gazpacho is a tomato-based soup served chilled. It is widely served in Spain, particularly in Andalusia, as well as neighboring Portugal. Since the soup is known to be revitalizing, it is most popular in the summer months.

Traditionally, the vegetables are pureed using a mortar and pestle, but I used my food processor.  I based my gazpacho off a classic recipe with a few modifications. It called for tomatoes (I used on the vine), a garlic clove, half of a white onion, a green sweet pepper, a cucumber, ground cumin, red wine vinegar, salt, olive oil,and French bread. I already had a red pepper, so I threw that in there, as well as the other half of the onion. My only other change was using a tablespoon of freeze-dried garlic instead of a clove of fresh.

The first step is to wash all of the vegetables. I rinsed the tomatoes and the onion, and then cut each into quarters. I (carefully) scraped the seeds out carefully, and cut them into pieces small enough for the food processor to chop. Finally, I peeled the cucumber and did the same to it. The recipe I followed says to always taste the cucumber before using it in your gazpacho—it says a sour cucumber will ruin the entire soup.

2

The next step is one of the more interesting: the recipe calls for soaking the French bread in a bowl of water. I had to hold the bread down and squeeze it to completely soak it, as it kept floating up. Once completely soaked, wring it out. I assumed the bread was to give the soup a thicker texture, but the recipe never actually said.

The remaining step is to combine all of the ingredients in the food processor, making sure it purees the soup to a creamy consistency. After that, put the soup in the fridge and let it chill overnight.

3

The next day, I ladled some of the gazpacho into a bowl and topped it with fresh chopped red pepper, dried parsley, and dried rosemary. I must say, the color was not appealing, so I was apprehensive about trying it at first, but I shouldn’t have been. It was cool and refreshing; if you can picture what summer tastes like, this is it. The tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers melded together so that I couldn’t taste them individually—the only individual tastes that came through were faint traces of garlic and vinegar, but it did not overpower the vegetables. The bread gave no flavor, but it did add a soupier texture so that the gazpacho did not taste like salsa. I liked that I supplemented the fresh peppers and rosemary; the peppers added a nice change of texture, and the rosemary accentuated the fresh aftertaste.

4

All in all, I would make this recipe again. It was easy – and cheap! – enough to be a feasible, healthy meal, and it tasted good. However, many people might not agree. My mom, for instance, could not accept that it was supposed to be a cold soup, and she thought it tasted more like a sauce on an entrée, rather than an entrée itself.