I spent the summer of 2003 in Granada, Spain, where I became insatiably addicted to two things: olives and gazpacho. It was the summer of that record breaking heat wave in Europe, and I just could not get enough of this simple, nutritious, refreshing soup. Since then, I still eat olives constantly, but I had to go through gazpacho withdrawal--nobody, not even fancy restaurants, makes it like they do in Spain. In the US, it's always more like salsa in a bowl--chunky with lots of other vegetables and heavy on the cilantro and cayenne, which is more Mexican than Spanish. But the real thing is actually a thin, simple, vinagery soup, with a slight salty/sweet bite, sometimes garnished with chopped veggies like cucumber, bell pepper, etc.
A few weeks ago, years after I'd lost hope of ever finding anything resembling the gazpacho I once ate every day for a whole summer, I did a simple search on epicurious and found this recipe for Classic Andalusian Gazpacho, adapted by Gourmet from a famous restaurant in Cadiz, a small city on the Costa del Sol. It looked promising: garlic, soaked bread, tomatoes and SHERRY VINAGER (duh! how could I not have thought of that!) a little cumin (that I would not have guessed), a little sugar, a little salt, a little olive oil.
As soon as I started mixing the ingredients, I knew my gazpacho mania was on its way back, and I think it's here to stay.
Here's the recipe, copied and pasted with comments:
Classic Andalusian Gazpacho
- 1 (2-inch-long) piece baguette, crust discarded (I used ciabatta)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (preferably "reserva"), or to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- 2 1/2 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
- 1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Andalusian hojiblanca)
- Garnish: finely chopped red and green bell peppers (as you can see in the photo above, I also garnished with chopped avocado, which isn't exactly traditional but whatareyougonnado.)
Soak bread in 1/2 cup water 1 minute, then squeeze dry, discarding soaking water.
Mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large knife). Blend garlic paste, bread, 2 tablespoons vinegar, sugar, cumin, and half of tomatoes in a food processor (I threw it all in a bowl and used a hand blender.) until tomatoes are very finely chopped. Add remaining tomatoes with motor running and, when very finely chopped, gradually add oil in a slow stream, blending until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.
Force soup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing firmly on solids. Discard solids. (This is the only tricky part, but totally worth it--in the epicurious comments, some people wrote that they skipped this step but without it, you will have mushy soup that separates from the liquid, instead of smooth perfect deliciousness. So just be patient. Pour it in a little at a time and swish it around in the strainer. My trick has been to use the back of a large serving spoon to spread it around, let it drip through a little, then gather it up into a pile of mushy tomato stuff and press on it.)
Transfer to a glass container and chill, covered, until cold, about 3 hours. Season with salt and vinegar before serving.
Serves about 4.