I love finding simple recipes that also happen to be vegan. Hooray for easy vegan recipes!
I especially love peasant recipes, or those recipes that I imagine being made in some idyllic European Middle Ages setting, with stale bread and whatever else happens to be on hand.
Gazpacho is one of those recipes.
Gazpacho is a simple summer soup consisting mainly of tomatoes and bread. I like mine with the vegetables listed below, but you can play around. Want something extremely fresh? Try tomato, green pepper, and cucumber. Something spicier? Add a dash of hot sauce. Change the seasoning to reflect the particular summer weather outside.
The recipe for this soup originated in Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain. A summer soup, it’s served chilled, and usually in glasses. It’s seasoned simply with salt and pepper, a little cumin, and of course olive oil and sherry vinegar.
If you don’t have sherry vinegar, then you should really go get some. I have at least eight different vinegars on hand at any given time, and I use them all frequently. Imagine vinegar like wine: there are certain nuances and flavours in each, and different circumstances call for different ones.
Gazpacho calls for sherry vinegar. I promise that you won’t regret having it on hand.
I didn’t used to like gazpacho. I’d tried it only once, but that once was such a shameful preparation of chunky vegetables and too much onion that I hadn’t ventured to try it again for seven years or so.
Until this heat.
And until I realised that gazpacho is just another excuse to drink sherry. Like I needed one.
So grab your emergency sherry* from the fridge, chop up whichever fresh vegetables whet your appetite, and in ten minutes, you can go sip some soup out in the summer sun.
Special equipment: blender
100 g day-old bread (about half an average loaf, two big handful’s worth when ripped into chunks) just under a kilo of perfectly ripe tomatoes (~2 lbs, ~5 non-genetically modified tomatoes) 1 clove garlic 1 large cucumber, or 2 pickling ones 1 small red onion 1 red bell pepper 1 green bell pepper few glugs olive oil twice as much sherry vinegar as olive oil few pinches freshly ground cumin salt and freshly ground pepper
I made mine in two batches, since my blender could just hold the half batch. I sliced the garlic, onion, and peppers in half and put them aside with two tomatoes and my other cucumber for fresh gazpacho sometime soon. Hooray!
Remove the crust from the bread and roughly rip the insides into chunks. Place the chunks in a bowl and cover about halfway with water. Let the bread soak up the water while you work.
Cut the stem out of the tomatoes and roughly slice them into the blender. I cut mine three times each.
Quickly slice the garlic and throw it into the blender, too. Blend the garlic and tomatoes on high while you chop the other vegetables.
Chop off the ends of the cucumber. Carefully slice off some nearly transparent rounds and save them for garnish. Roughly chop the rest of the cucumber.
Prep the onion then, just before roughly chopping, make a few closely spaced vertical slices into the end of the onion and slice the end off, saving the minced pieces for garnish. Slice the rest of the cucumber a few times.
Cut out the stems from the pepper and remove any seeds. Roughly chop the peppers and add them to the blender with the onion and cucumber.
When that mixture is blended fairly smoothly, squeeze any excess water out of the bread and add it to the blender. You may need to turn off the blender and poke the bread pieces down to get them all to blend.
As that’s blending, with the blender still on, drizzle in some olive oil; splash in the sherry vinegar; and add a few pinches of cumin; and season generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
If it seems a little thick, then add a few splashes of cold water.
At this point, you can either chill the soup for a couple hours or cheat and add some cubed or crushed ice to the blender or individual servings. You’ll have to give it a bit of a stir as the ice melts and the water separates, but no matter.
Garnish the servings with the cucumber slices, the minced red onion, and just a bit of freshly cracked black pepper.
* Wait, you don’t have some emergency sherry in your fridge? That’s even more of an emergency! How have you gotten this far into summer without it!?
Garnishes: thinly sliced cucumber, mined red onion, and freshly cracked black pepper or a few chunky croutons
Goes well with: sherry, a plate of warmed olives, and some crusty bread drizzled with Spanish olive oil