Saturday, August 14, 2010
When the farm stands are full of large ripe tomatoes (and their price is beginning to come back down to earth), this is the time for gazpacho soup. I can make a few quarts of it and, as my wife will surely testify, eat the entire batch myself. In fact, I will sometimes sneak out of bed late at night to raid the refrigerator’s last few bowls of it … climbing back under the sheets reeking of garlic.
Gazpacho is a fairly simple and flexible recipe. Start by peeling, coring, and chopping about five large, dead-ripe tomatoes. Put them in a large stainless steel bowl. You may de-seed them or not depending on your taste. (I don’t.) Next peel, de-seed (I do), and chop two large cucumbers. Add them to the bowl. Then de-seed and chop two large Italian peppers … add them. If you can’t find Italian peppers, use Bell peppers, but be sure to peel them first. Clean and chop a large Bermuda (preferred), Vidalia, or red onion. Add it. Then mince at least five large garlic cloves and add them. Finally, include a handful of fresh chopped Italian parsley. (At this point you might save a good cupful of these chopped vegetables to add as a garnish to the top of the served soup. I usually don't however.)
Then, process all these vegetables in a blender until just a little chunky, adding some V8 juice, if necessary, to get the blending going … placing the results in a large, pretty serving bowl. You’re almost done but for a few more steps: Add a large handful of fresh Italian bread crumbs, the juice of one large lemon, a tablespoon of good wine (or Balsamic) vinegar, about a quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil, a palm-full of kosher salt, five turns of a pepper mill, and about ten good squirts of Tabasco sauce. If the result is too thick, add some more V8 juice until it is the consistence you desire. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate, covered, overnight. If you don’t cover this, everything else in there will pick up a garlic flavor.
Serve well chilled (with garnishes, if desired) as a first course for about six people (or just one, me.)