Smoky Gazpacho

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Spicy Smoky Gazpacho with Spanish Chorizo

Yes, it’s summer and yes I plan to make gazpacho (more than once). I bet you do too. We like gazpacho, you and me, because it’s full of ripe summery flavors. I’m sure as the summer progresses I’ll make traditional gazpacho. Today however, I decided to make spicy, Smoky Gazpacho as the first gazpacho of my summer season.

This recipe starts with what I consider the basic, though quite flexible, standard list of ingredients: ripe tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, and garlic– all chopped uniformly and blended til smooth with sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. A couple of tablespoons of cold water is sometimes necessary to get the mixture moving in the blender, depending on the tomatoes (you could also use tomato juice– but choose wisely, you really don’t need to add processed food to your beautiful whole food gazpacho).

All in all, this is probably how you make gazpacho. But do you add bread? How about almonds? These are more controversial.

Well, I usually add one or both. I think the bread adds a certain creaminess– without it, the soup feels more like an insipid savory smoothie or bland salsa. Almonds add more than just a satisfying tooth, they have enough of the right kind of fat to make this soup drink like a meal.

Smoky Gazpacho

But as I said, I’m making Smoky Gazpacho.

My Smoky Gazpacho follows the same routine as my basic version, but it starts by blackening the red bell pepper as well as a moderately spicy red Fresno chile. Smoked paprika and smoked sea salt add a further subtle layer of mystery. I garnish this soup with a few slices of pan-fried Spanish chorizo. It just feels appropriate.

The result has all the bright acidity you expect from gazpacho, but it also has a whiff of fragrant smoke followed by the barest tingle of spiced heat. Making this bowl of Smoky Gazpacho darker and more primitive than you might be used to. Still, these elements are rather understated because they are gently layered, rather than slapped aggressively on top of each other.

Whether you make a Classic or a Smoky Gazpacho, I hope you remember that the real secret to gazpacho is the tomatoes. They need to be ripe and juicy. Oh, and you also need very good olive oil– lots of it. GREG

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Spicy Smoky Gazpacho with Spanish Chorizo

Spicy Smoky Gazpacho with Spanish Chorizo

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Spicy Smoky Gazpacho with Spanish Chorizo

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Fresno chile
  • 2 pound ripe red tomatoes (roughly chopped, juices retained)
  • ½ cucumber (peeled and seeded)
  • ½ small red onion (chopped)
  • 2/3 cup roughly chopped smoked almonds (divided)
  • 1 slice stale bread (torn into 1-inch pieces)
  • 3 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (or more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked sea salt (can substitute standard sea salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 18 slice Spanish dry-cured chorizo
  • chopped flat leaf parsley (to taste)

Directions

Roast the peppers: Char the bell pepper and Fresno chile by laying them, one at a time, directly over a gas flame, turning occasionally with tongs until blackened on all sides. Place them in a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, set aside until cool; rub off the blackened skin, remove stems and seeds, then roughly chop them.

Prepare the gazpacho: Place roasted red bell pepper, roasted fresno chile, tomatoes and their juice, cucumber, onion, half the smoked almonds, bread, sherry vinegar, garlic, smoked paprika, smoked salt and pepper in a blender. Process until as smooth as you like, adding a splash of water if necessary to achieve the proper consistency. It should move freely in the blender, but not be watery (add one ingredient at a time and blend thoroughly before adding another if all the ingredients don’t initially fit).

Once all the ingredients are smooth, drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running until fully incorporated and emulsified.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to come together.

To serve: Just before serving, Heat a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo slices and cook until they begin to curl at the edges and brown. Flip them over and cook until browned on the other side.

Serve the chilled gazpacho in shallow soup bowl, garnished with chorizo slices, remaining chopped smoked almonds, parsley and a drizzle of very good olive oil.