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.
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