Gazpacho is all over the place in summertime. It's the iconic chilled summer soup; refreshing and acidic and featuring the almighty tomato at its seasonal peak. Many non-traditional ingredients find their way into modern recipes, though, such as avocado or watermelon, and many depend on tomato juice. These are delicious in their own way (including a recipe already covered in this column). However, the original recipe from Spain is pretty simple, featuring olive oil, tomatoes, bread, garlic, and garnishes.
The bread is what's usually missing from recipes. It thickens the soup and make use of what would otherwise be stale. In Alice Waters' recipe in The Art of Simple Food, she soaks it briefly in water, then mashes it with garlic into a paste along with a soaked dried ancho chile to give a tickle of heat. Though the last step is not all that authentic, it's a brilliant move, and my favorite part about this recipe. The rest of the soup is pretty much summer incarnate--what Waters calls "a liquid salad."
- 1 dried ancho chile, stemmed and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 cups crustless crusty bread
- 5 pounds tomatoes, cut in half horizontally
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- handful each of chopped chervil and basil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
In a mortar and pestle, pound the reconstituted ancho chile into a paste, then scrape out and set aside. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt to the mortar and pound into a paste. Soak the bread in cold water for 2 minutes, then squeeze out the water and add that to the garlic. Mash it all together until smooth. (Alternatively, you could do it in a food processor).
Grate the cut sides of the tomatoes on the medium holes of a box grater into a large bowl until only the skins are left; discard the skins. Stir in the bread paste and add the chile puree to taste (this allows you to control the spiciness). Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt to taste, then chill in the refrigerator.
In the meantime, mix together the remaining ingredients to create a relish. Divide the soup among bowls and top each with a generous spoonful of relish.