I know, I know, yesterday was the first day of October .
But it’s been a crazy warm here in Seattle this September and the farmers’ markets have been overflowing with delicious tomatoes. I’ve been skinning and deseeding tons of tomatoes to make stacks of tomato sauce for the freezer and have discovered that if you rub the leftover skins and seed pulp through a sieve you get lots of the most delicious pulpy tomato juice.
Which is perfect for gazpacho.
The recipe below is one I cobbled up myself from various books and online sources. I’ve been fiddling with it for years now and can’t remember what my sources were, sorry. Spanish people have tried it though and it’s apparently pretty authentic.
This chilled soup, which is nothing more than a whizzed up salad, is gorgeous when (if) the weather is warm and the tomatoes are juicy. I quite often make a big pot just for us to eat at home, but it also makes a great starter for a summer dinner party, in which case you may want to add the optional garnishes. Don’t bother making this if you can’t get hold of really delicious, juicy ripe tomatoes – in the US I use heirlooms and in the UK cherries.
You will need to whizz every thing together with a handheld blender. If you don’t have one you’re going to have to do messy things with a food processor or goblet blender. If you don’t have one of those, I really wouldn’t bother making this.
A big jugful of thick, pulpy tomato juice, or passata or a bunch of fresh, skinned and de-pipped tomatoes
½ large cucumber, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, red for preference
½ green pepper (optional, but Anaheims are nice)
2 slices white bread or 8 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or substitute red or white wine vinegar)
1 big handful parsley sprig
1 large sprig mint
few drops Tabasco (optional)
1 teaspoon tomato ketchup (optional, I prefer to use the Heinz stuff without HFCS, called ‘Simply Heinz in the US)
salt and pepper
FOR OPTIONAL GARNISH:
1 red pepper, chopped into tiny dice
1 green pepper, chopped into tiny dice
1 small red onion, chopped into tiny dice
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped into tiny dice
Place the tomato juice/tomatoes into a big jug. Roughly chop the cucumber, onion (and pepper if using) and add to the tomatoes together with the garlic, mint and parsley. Tear up the slices of bread or add the breadcrumbs. I always have a bag of fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer and add them frozen to the soup.
Whizz every thing together with your handheld blender. Add the oil, vinegar, Tabasco and salt and pepper to taste and a teaspoon of tomato ketchup if you think that your tomatoes need it (apparently they do this in Spain, so that’s OK). Stir together and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Add a few ice cubes if you want to chill it faster.