Thirty-one years ago when I was pregnant with Tom, I found a recipe in a brochure in my doctor's office. The recipe was for gazpacho that one could carry to work, refrigerate, and eat. So I did. And thus began my absolute love affair with this cold, fresh, vegetable soup. There are as many ways to make gazpacho as there are people who make it. Ben and I had dinner at a friend's house where the cook was a former priest. He served gazpacho which he said he had learned to make in Spain, and that it was the only "proper" way to prepare it. He had thrown everything (even the bread) into a blender, and the result was flavorful, but thick and textureless. I prefer my own recipe.
This year I am trying to chop the vegetables a bit smaller at Ben's request. And, you know, I like it that way. The perfect spoonful of gazpacho has a bit of each vegetable on it, along with a crouton. That is more difficult to do when the green pepper chunks are 1-inch squares, as the recipe suggests. Need I say that the best gazpacho is made with the freshest vegetables? To that end, I waited this year until I had enough fresh tomatoes hanging on the vines to make up a batch. It is exquisite. I would like to just eat a big bowl of it for dinner. And lunch. Seriously.
The croutons are more important to the recipe than you might think as they provide a much-needed crunchiness. Imagine my dismay yesterday when I made up a batch of gazpacho, then realized we didn't have any croutons. I decided to make my own. I put a few slices of sourdough bread out to firm up, then cut them into cubes. I knew I could toss them in olive oil and herbs and toast them in the oven, but I pretty much don't turn my oven on from June to August, so that was out. Instead I put them in a skillet with the olive oil, a little butter, Parmesan cheese and parsley from my garden. I browned them until they became golden, crunchy little cubes. Perfection. Fresh croutons for my fresh gazpacho.
Ben and I had some gazpacho with our dinner last night, and I just checked the rest this morning to see if it needed more V-8 added to it. Of course it did. I like lots of broth so I added a couple of big glugs from the bottle, then more olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. A quick taste - oh man, I was doing the happy dance just like that wild-haired chick on the Food Network. I hope you will try my recipe and do a little happy dancing, yourself. Be sure and adjust the ingredients until it tastes just the way you want it to. That's what I do.
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks and seeded
1 cucumber, pared and coarsely chopped
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups tomato juice (I use V-8)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 to 3 drops hot pepper sauce (try Sriracha, if you have it)
dash of pepper
cheese and garlic croutons
Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Stir in tomato juice, oil vinegar, salt, pepper sauce and pepper. Cover; chill. To carry, spoon into a wide-mouthed vacuum bottle. When ready to eat, garnish with croutons.