RECIPE: Traditional Andalucian Gazpacho

Most people typically think of soup as a comfort food during the cold winter months.  I definitely fall into that category of people and hardly ever give soup a second thought in the summer, unless it’s from a can and an “emergency” when the fridge is empty in between grocery store runs.

Case in point, cold soups don’t get the credit they deserve, and in reality could be a refreshing addition to your summertime repertoire.  One example is gazpacho, a traditional tomato-based soup from the Andalucía region of southern Spain that takes full advantage of all of the beautiful produce available this time of year.

With temperatures at their peak, I decided to shake things up during a recent gathering with friends and try out this recipe (with a few modifications) for traditional Andalucian gazpacho.  Guilty as charged, I’ve actually had the recipe filed away for years, originally tearing it out of a visitors magazine that my grandparents picked up during a trip to Sevilla.  Paired with Spanish wine, hearty bread and a few other tapas, it proved to be perfect for a hot summer night on the patio.

Gazpacho Andaluz
Makes 8-10 servings

For the soup:
4 large tomatoes
1 green pepper (I used a pasilla pepper with a milder heat)
1 large cucumber
1 large red bell pepper (optional for additional color and flavor)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
2 cups bread, diced and dried overnight
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for serving
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Fresh cracked pepper (optional)

For the topping:
1/2 large cucumber, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup bread, diced and dried overnight

  1. Roughly chop tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and garlic and add to a blender with water, pureeing ingredients until no chunks remain. You may have to work in batches depending on the size of your blender.
  2. Add the bread, olive oil, vinegar and salt and continue to puree until the mixture is completely smooth. (Note: The consistency should be think and not watery, however if the mixture is too thick, you can thin it with additional water a tablespoon at a time.)
  3. To make the topping, combine cucumber and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Place bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes, then place in a separate bowl when cooled.
  4. Serve soup immediately or refrigerate and serve within a few of hours after chilled.
  5. Just before serving, top each bowl with a few spoonfuls of the cucumber and pepper mixture, along with some bread crumbs and drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.

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