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We’ve always been keen on serving gazpacho, a chilled tomato-based soup, at summer parties. In addition to being healthy, delicious and refreshing, gazpacho looks just swell when served in clear shot glasses with a pretty vegetable or herb garnish.
Traditionally made entirely of raw vegetables, gazpacho is said to come from the Andalusia region of Spain. No one really knows where the word “gazpacho” (pronounced gahz-pah-cho) came from but the theories range from the Greek word for “collection box” to the Hebrew word Gazaz, which means to break into little pieces. No matter which is true, all speak to the technique of the recipe.
There is really no right or wrong way to make gazpacho, and it comes in many variations, which is why experimenting with gazpacho is so much fun. Some gazpachos are smooth and almost creamy, while others are quite chunky. There are green gazpachos, yellow gazpachos, even an orange-hued Spanish version that blends day-old crusty bread into the soup to give it some added thickness.
What the recipes have in common, however, is that each is made from a base of tomatoes. Vegetables are added for taste, color and texture, vinegar is added for acidity and a touch of olive oil is used to smooth it all out.
We like to start our gazpacho with a basic, colorful recipe and then get creative and add in whatever fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs we may have picked up at the farmer’s market that morning. Just be sure to serve it cold as ice baby. Easy, breezy. Come on in and have a taste, doll.
Basic Gazpacho (serves 8)
4 tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 seedless cucumber, peeled if desired and cut into large chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 orange or yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine all the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) in a large bowl and refrigerate overnight. Place the mix into a blender or food processor and pulse it to the desired consistency. Be careful not to over-process the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least another hour or two. Remember, the longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. Garnish with cilantro, mint, basil, lemon, a bit of chopped apple or whatever you fancy and serve.
Introductory photo: Rita Hayworth
Introductory quote: Ball of Fire, 1941