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Spanish Style Gazpacho
"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
-- Lewis Grizzard
I could eat this soup every single day! I kept making "one last" batch of gazpacho as the last of the great tomatoes ripened last fall & I can't wait till it's time again (that would be from about August till the fresh local tomatoes run out).
Growing up in California, I learned to throw any fresh vegetable I could get my hands on into gazpacho & leave it chunky, almost like a mild salsa (I don't even know if that's Mexican style or totally made up). But a few weeks in Spain won me over to the smooth & simple recipe.
This recipe calls for a blender, but if you don't have one you can do it the chunky way (Cali-styley: just dice up a bunch of pretty veggies & serve cold). The way it's served in Spain is as a smooth, rich orange soup varying in thickness according to the quirks of the chef, but always sabroso. In Sevilla there was an even richer version called salmorejo, but you need those fancy Spanish hams for that one.
In addition to all welcome interpretations, the recipe also depends on your ingredients (& depends on good ingredients: fresh & local). If you have lots of tomatoes, you can make it thicker without using so much bread. If you like it thinner (I was knocked out by the flavor of even the thinnest gazpacho in Spain), use lots of water. If you only have dark bread, cut the crusts off - or maybe you like the flavor it adds. You get it.
Cut up the tomatoes, cuke, pepper, & bread into chunks your blender can handle. Put them in with the garlic, a generous glug of olive oil, a smaller dose of vinegar & almost a teaspoon of salt (or as you like). I add water right away (I use around a half cup) but usually blend in the bread last after the veggies are good & mixed up. I don't use a lot of bread because in Spain it was such a mild ingredient we never guessed it. I'm sure some of them didn't have any. Taste it & adjust seasonings, thickness, etc.
Put it in the fridge & let it sit. It's best to let it sit for a whole day.
Serve with an offering of garnishes: diced onion of any color, pepper (of any color - green for a nice accent), croutons (a must), halved cherry tomatoes or any fresh tomatoes, whatever looks good. Bring those to the table in their own dishes, then sprinkle them on the soup at your guests' pleasure. You can let them serve themselves, but I think it's a nice touch if you do it for them.
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