Sunday, August 22, 2010
I used to think gazpacho was just ok. Then Luis came to town.
He, along with my friend Andrew, was running a language exchange program for a group of Spanish kids for a month. When they weren’t being teachers, they were exploring Seattle to its fullest (Mariners games, Mt. Rainier, the Fremont Troll, Hooters) but in my opinion, the night they threw a tapas party really beat all.
When I arrived the tables were covered with platters of bread and cured Spanish meats, wedges of tortilla de patata, olives, Marcona almonds, and toothpicks of cheese, anchovies and pickles. I was in heaven. And then someone placed a seemingly standard cup of gazpacho in front of me. I’d had my share of this chilled soup while traveling through Spain and thought I’d tasted it all, but I never saw this coming.
One sip and I was addicted. It had the perfect amount of white vinegar playing against the olive oil, and after cross-examining Luis regarding its preparation, I learned of its other secret: soaked bread. Unexpected, yes, but the texture was incredible. Plus, after refilling our glasses 5 or 6 times, it made much more sense than our original guess: crack.
On a hot summer day, almost nothing is more refreshing than this chilled soup. It's a salad in a glass!
Serves 8-10 people (or only a few if you're the greedy, addictive type)
7-8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 big slices of good quality white bread, crusts removed and soaked in water (gently squeeze some of the water out before processing)
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup white vinegar
Salt to taste
To peel the tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a paring knife, slice a small “x” into the bottom of each tomato. Place the tomatoes into the water and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until their skins start to loosen. Quickly transfer the tomatoes into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Their skins should come off easily at this point. Roughly chop the peeled tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, garlic, onions and bread into the bowl of a food processor. Puree until the texture is uniform. Add the olive oil and 1/2 cup of the white vinegar. Taste and add more vinegar if necessary (mine was perfect with the entire 3/4 cup). Add salt to taste. Water can be added if the gazpacho is too salty or too thick.