Relax, It's Just Gazpacho

Make the most of late-summer produce by blending tomatoes, cucumber and more into this easy-to-master, chilled summer soup.

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Photo By: Sarah E Crowder ©Sarah E Crowder

Summer in a Bowl

If you want to taste the season's freshest flavors, then look no further than this chilled summer soup. It's not exactly a culinary challenge, either. Just chop up the best of summer's produce in a food processor, if you have one. Or, grab a knife and a cutting board (and maybe a friend) and get to chopping. Tomatoes are the traditional star, accompanied by cucumbers, something from the onion family and some herbs. Add something acidic, most often vinegar (sherry vinegar in particular), and some olive oil for smoothness, and you are in business. And maybe throw in some peppers — sweet and hot together, for good measure. 

 

Photography by Sarah Crowder

The Vegetables

As with any traditional dish, there is discussion over competing preparation methods. For instance: Should you add tomato juice or water, or simply let the juices of the tomatoes and vegetables pull the soup together? There is discussion about how smooth or chunky gazpacho should be; whether or not you should add stale bread; whether almonds should be included and whether to use a blender or a food processor, or chop by hand. If you're a beginner, stick to this basic vegetable template, then layer on your own opinions.

The Chop

For the best results, cut the vegetables into small chunks, then chop the vegetables in the food processor in batches to control how finely they get chopped (and to prevent them from turning into a puree). Then they all get combined, so it's not critical which ones get chopped with which.

The Aromatics

You can use garlic, shallots, any kind of onion, even scallions or leeks. For your first batch, stick to the basics by using a combination of red onions and shallots.

The Greens

Note that the vegetables are all ending up in the same bowl — no need to clean out your food processor in between pulsing batches. Here, some fennel is added along with the cucumber, for a bright anise-y note, and hot pepper for heat. You could use hot sauce instead of hot peppers.

The Tomatoes & Bread

To peel or not to peel? In short... nah. But do make sure to cut out the tough stem and core, then cut the tomatoes into chunks before roughly chopping them in the food processor. Add a torn-up slice or two of bread to the mix — it will thicken the gazpacho and add body. Use a simple white bread so it doesn't interfere with the clean flavors of the vegetables.

Pulse in Short, Tiny Spurts

You don’t want to let the motor run when making gazpacho, especially not here, so the bread doesn’t turn into paste.

Combine in a Big Bowl

As you pulse or chop the vegetables in batches, add them to one big bowl where they will become your lovely soup.

More Veg, for Texture

You can certainly pulse all of the vegetables in the food processor instead of cutting any of them by hand, and still get a great gazpacho. And you can certainly dice all of the vegetables by hand if you want more uniform, fancy-looking results. That takes a lot of time, though, so one compromise is to dice one or two of the vegetables, especially vegetables that are easy to neatly dice, such as this zucchini and bell pepper.

Stir In Some Liquid

Some people prefer to just let the natural juices of the vegetables mingle with some olive oil, a bit of acid (such as vinegar) and possibly water. You can also add a bit of tomato or vegetable juice to create a soupier texture. Another option is to take a cup or two of the chopped vegetables and puree them with some liquid to create a thick puree that you can stir back into the gazpacho. 

Adjust the Seasonings

While it’s true of many, if not all, dishes, somehow getting the right balance of tart, salt and pepper seems to be a definitive line between good gazpacho and great gazpacho, so don’t skip the final tasting and adjusting.

The Finished Product

There you have it: a refreshing soup that makes the very most of tomatoes, cucumber and the rest of the vegetables that burst onto the scene with a vengeance toward the end of the summer.

Garnish & Serve

You don’t need to do anything to this wonderful summer soup, but a drizzle of olive oil, some lime wedges and a few chunks of avocado never made anything worse.