I started this week with a salad bag which had two fat red peppers, a couple of baby cucumbers and some cherry tomatoes, two lovely baby gem lettuce and some cherry tomatoes and I immediately thought – soup!. What with the sweltering weather this week, of course it had to be cold soup and nothing is more refreshing for lunch on a hot day.
Gazpacho is nothing more than a liquidized salad and you can add all sorts of different ingredients from lettuce to radishes to celery but the basics are red peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. I like to add a small red onion and one garlic clove but be careful because raw onion and garlic, if added too enthusiastically, can overpower the other vegetables. My only other addition apart from salt, pepper, Spanish olive oil and vinegar is a red chilli.
So simple, so quick, so delicious and so good for you. Just make sure you take the time to peel the vegetables before liquidizing to get a nice texture. You need a really efficient peeler for this so make sure you invest in a good one with a sharp edge. So many times I see people struggling away with a completely blunt peeler. I like the D shape ones best but if you can’t find a basic one then OXO always seems to make good equipment.
The balance of vinegar is important but just add a little at a time. It should be gutsy and not bland. I use a blend of half-half red wine vinegar to sherry vinegar. You can find some very good sherry vinegar in the supermarket which is worth the money, but for the red wine vinegar you can just go for the cheapest. Finally, it must be very cold. Add an ice cube or two when liquidizing if you are in a hurry.
1kg really ripe tomatoes
2 Red Peppers, peel of as much skin as possible with a peeler, de-seed and roughly chop
2 baby or one large cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
1 very small red onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
1 fresh red chilli, peeled and seeds removed
A generous glug of extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
A generous glug of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar (I like to use half/half)
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make a small cross on top of each tomato with a sharp knife. Blanch the tomatoes by placing them into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes. Remove them and refresh in cold water. Remove the skins. Add all the other ingredients and either puree in a liquidizer or simply use a hand held blender. Whiz until completely smooth. Check seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar to taste. Chill in the fridge and serve very cold.