For a long time I disliked gazpacho. It seemed like a vat of cold V8 with chopped veggie slop murking it up. During summers in college I worked at a pizza place in Falmouth–what’s up Pesci’s!–and the chef, who knew what he was doing, would sometimes make it. But even then, what I most enjoyed were the garlic croutons that came on the side.

But I audited a seminar a few years ago, and on the last day of class we had a little potluck. The professor brought a gazpacho unlike the ones I disliked–cool, smooth, and tangy. I nabbed the recipe from her and now I make gazpacho all summer long. With bread, olive oil, and water to emulsify it, this soup transcends the V8 category to become remarkably luscious.

If you can get bruised tomatoes at your farmers market, do it–they’re perfect for this soup and way cheap. I got mine a week ago and forgot about them in the fridge until today, when I pulled them out to find them even more bruised and ugly than before. Gazpacho heals all wounds! I’m slurping it as we speak.

Gazpacho Andalus
inspired by andalucia.com
makes 4 1-cup servings

The measurements here are recommendations. I like more salt and vinegar, surprise surprise. Taste it as you go and add what you like. Do, however, use whatever variety of vinegars you have on hand–it’s a trick I learned in Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers and it adds instant depth. I used a mix of rice wine, champagne, and red wine vinegars.

7-8 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
2 slices country white bread, soaked in warm water and squeezed dry
1/4 C good olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 T vinegar
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t cumin
1/2 C water

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the stems. With your fingers, dig out and discard all the seeds and slime and tear the remaining tomato flesh into chunks. You should end up with 3 1/2 or 4 cups of tomato chunks.

Heat up the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the garlic cloves. Swirl the olive oil around them; you should see little bubbles forming around the cloves. Keep an eye on them and remove from the heat when they’re light golden in color and tender when you poke them with a fork, 3-5 minutes. Don’t let them burn or get crisp! You’re basically doing a quick stovetop roasted garlic.

In a food processor or blender, buzz up half of everything: the tomatoes, the bread, the garlic and olive oil, the vinegar, salt, cumin, and water. Let it blend for at least a minute or so–since you’re not peeling the tomatoes you need the machine to do a fair amount of work. When the soup is emulsified and very smooth, dump it into a bowl. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients, and stir together with the first batch. Serve at room temperature with whatever garnishes you like–croutons for me, maybe avocado for you?

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