Why It Works
- The key to this super fast gazpacho is layering and salting the vegetables above the bread so that their exuded juices get sopped up before blending.
- For silky smooth gazpacho, blend it on high speed and then strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
A couple of years ago, I produced what was possibly the most time consuming gazpacho recipe ever. It involved salting vegetables in advance to draw out flavorful internal liquids, freezing the vegetables to break down their cell structure, and puréeing them with bread soaked in vegetable juice and olive oil. It was damn delicious—the best gazpacho I know how to make!—but took in excess of two hours from start to finish. I admit it: It's not exactly the simple, rustic summer dish you want it to be.
That recipe follows what I call the 90/10 rule: When taking a dish from great to excellent, you have to put in 90% more work to make it 10% better. Sometimes, that extra effort is worth it; other times, I'll settle for great-not-perfect in order to save myself a couple hours in the kitchen.
Today, I'm going to share with you the version of gazpacho I make when I'm feeling lazy. Don't worry, it's still knock-your-socks-off tasty.
Great gazpacho relies on excellent ingredients, so this is one part you definitely don't want to skimp on. Find the freshest, ripest, softest, brightest tomatoes you can, along with some great peppers (I used green bell for their grassy bitterness), a red onion, a cucumber, some garlic, and some herbs. In this case I went with oregano, but you can use any herb you'd like.
Gazpacho, at its heart, is a bread- and olive oil-based soup, so those had better be good, too. The bread I used was San Francisco sourdough (throw out the crusts or save them for crumbs), and the olive oil was a Colavita's 100% California extra-virgin olive oil, which has a mild, buttery golden flavor.
The key here is to make sure that every bit of flavor gets extracted from your ingredients. I do this by building things up in layers, starting with the torn-up bread at the bottom of a bowl.
Next I add a layer of sliced tomatoes and season them generously with salt. The salt will draw out flavorful liquid from inside the tomatoes, which will then drip down and saturate the bread, making it easier to purée in the end.
Next up is a layer of cucumber (I used a seedless English cucumber so I wouldn't have to bother seeding it), sliced garlic, green peppers, onion, and oregano leaves, sprinkled with more salt.
Another layer of salted tomato slices goes on top, along with plenty of olive oil. To give the salt a bit of time to work its magic, I let everything sit for just 30 minutes. Juices drip, bread gets soaked, flavors meld, things get happy.
Stir it all up just to distribute everything evenly, then load it into the blender in batches.
If you don't mind a chunkier gazpacho, you can just blend until it comes together. I prefer mine to be silky smooth, so I let it blend on high speed for a full three minutes or so, adding in plenty of sherry vinegar and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour it all through a fine-mesh strainer for ultimate smoothness.
The easiest way to get soups and purées through a fine-mesh strainer is to press down using the back of a ladle. Forget the spatula!
And lunch is served. Start to finish, about 45 minutes. Is it perfect gazpacho? Nope. Is it 90% perfect gazpacho? Sure is, and that's a pretty darn high percentile if you ask me.
This recipe originally appeared as part of the column "The Food Lab Turbo."
6 ounces hearty bread, crusts removed, torn into 1- to 2-inch chunks
3 pounds (about 4 large) very ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound (about 1 small) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
1/3 pound (about 1 small) small red onion, peeled and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
1/3 pound (about 1 medium) green or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
Chopped herbs such as parsley, chives, or oregano for serving
Place bread in bottom of a large bowl. Add half of the tomatoes in an even layer on top and season generously with salt and pepper. Add cucumbers, onion, peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle with oregano and season generously with salt and pepper. Add remaining tomatoes and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Drizzle oil and vinegar over the top. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Toss all ingredients with a wooden spoon or by hand until they are evenly incorporated. Transfer half of the contents, including liquid at bottom of bowl, to the jar of a blender. Blend on high speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Press mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Repeat with remaining soup (you may need to work in more batches). Season soup with more salt, pepper, and vinegar as desired.
Serve immediately, garnish with chopped herbs and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, or chill for up to 3 days before serving.
You can save your bread crusts and turn them into fresh breadcrumbs for recipes here.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 41g||52%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||27%|
|Total Carbohydrate 29g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 10g|
|Vitamin C 80mg||399%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|