I blogged about my recipe for rustic gazpacho when I first adopted it into my repertoire back in 2014. Much like ratatouille (more on this soon), it inexplicably fell out of favor after a few intense years. Seriously, I have no idea why. How fortuitous that I was re-inspired to make this fresh, lovely, easy soup when I was flipping through Nancy Harmon Jenkins “Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil” a few weeks ago before giving a talk on the Mediterranean diet.
I’ve had Jenkins’ book “The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook” since shortly after it came out in 2009, and I regularly recommend it. As I was preparing my PowerPoint slides for my talk, it occurred to me to check to see if she had other books (Seriously, I have no idea why I haven’t checked before, I mean, the woman has won James Beard awards!), and she does…several. I promptly checked them out from the library and have been drooling over them ever since.
“Virgin Territory” has some fascinating information about olive oil, but also has dozens (OK, 100) amazing Mediterranean recipes. Based on her recipe for gazpacho, I made a few tweaks to my own, namely adding some soaked rustic bread* to my Vitamix with the other ingredients (the Vitamix, which I deem extremely nice but not necessary for this particular recipe, is also new since I last made gazpacho). I also added cumin and red pepper, the latter of which we brought back from Istanbul last December.
I used purchased tomatoes for this batch, but I can’t wait until I can harvest tomatoes from my own garden later this summer. Homegrown or no, I truly appreciated fact that this soup starts out cold and stays cold, with no cooking in between. I made it on a recent Sunday when it was 90-thousand degrees outside, and my kitchen was hot enough without turning on the stove or oven!
Yield 10 cups
This is an easy recipe to make, and especially delightful on a day when it's too hot to cook! I wouldn't call this a main dish soup (not enough protein to really stay satisfied), but this salad-in-a-bowl is a lovely accompaniment to grilled meat, poultry or fish. At lunch, it would pair well with a grain-and-bean salad, a green salad with leftover protein from the previous night's dinner, or with a sandwich (make it a half- or open-face sandwich for a lighter lunch). It also makes a surprisingly satisfying snack!
- About 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded (only if seeds are large) and cut into chunks
- 1 yellow bell pepper, de-stemmed, seeded and cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 cup water (you can use less if you want a thicker soup)
- 1 large slice stale rustic bread
- 1/2-1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt, to taste
- Dried ground red pepper or hot sauce, to taste
- Optional: finely diced cucumber, thinly sliced scallions (green onions) and/or chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley for garnish
- Tear the bread into large chunks, place them in a bowl, and cover with water. Prepare the vegetables and measure out the oil, vinegar and water.
- In a food processor or blender, layer the tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper. Toss the garlic cloves on top, then pour in the oil, vinegar and 1/2 cup of thewater. Pulse until the ingredients are combined into coarse pureed. If mixture is not liquid enough (this will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are), add more water.
- Squeeze most of the water out of the bread chunks, and add them to the blender or food processor. Pulse a few more times.
- Add the salt, cumin and red pepper or hot sauce (if using), and pulse a few more times to combine. Taste, and add more seasoning if desired.
- Refrigerate until chilled, an hour or more. Serve with additional hot sauce and suggested garnishes, if desired.
The bread is totally optional. I used to make it without, and find it satisfying either way. The bread does give a little more texture and thickness.
Courses Lunch, Dinner
* I was lucky to have a loaf sitting on my counter, but I hesitated before adding any, because it represented the pinnacle of Jeff’s breadmaking. (Seriously, it was a treat for the eyes and a delight for the tastebuds…dark chewy crust, densely springy sourdough interior. The warmer weather has been doing interesting things to the fermentation process.)
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