Saturday, April 26, 2008

Gazpacho soup

It's that time of year when the taste buds start yearning for something fresh and tangy, and this soup from Spain is a perfect starter or a side for any meal. I've always loved gazpacho, even though it seems weird to eat a soup cold. But this one is just perfect. I've sampled several different gazpachos over the last few weeks as the weather has gotten warmer and finally today decided to try it myself. In the past, I've made it using tomato juice as a short-cut, but today, I decided to go as authentic as possible and make it from scratch and selected a wide variety of delicious veggies to go into the soup. The only one I omitted was celery (by accident) but I had plenty of other veggies from red peppers to cucumber to flavor this soup.

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I chopped everything pretty roughly -- it was all going into the blender anyway. I added plenty of onion (white & green both), green pepper, red pepper, cucumber, and lots and lots of tomatoes -- 7 or 8, if I recall correctly. I then transferred it to a glass pan so I could season it properly. I squeezed fresh lemon juice on the veggies, and then drizzled everything with red wine vinegar and olive oil. I also added salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

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Once I had stirred and mixed everything to my satisfaction, it was into the blender with the mixture! I used both the grind and puree settings. Gazpacho should be mildly chunky. If it looks like pico de gallo, it's way too chunky. Smooth like a tomato soup is way too pureed. There should be some texture to the soup, but not enough to actually have to chew or bite down on a piece. I had to experiment with a few settings before I got it to the right consistency.

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Once you have blended to the right consistency, transfer it into an appropriate container, and then chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours prior to serving. The longer you leave it chilling, the better the flavors will mesh together. You can top this soup with the avocado salsa I described in this post, tortilla chips, or croutons and green onions, as I did. In some versions of this soup, you can even add ice chunks for a little more textures and to get the soup really cold. This soup will make a great accompaniment to the southwest quesadillas or even your traditional grilled cheese sandwich.

Bon appetite!

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