Gazpacho is one of the glories of summer, and it has to be made with garden fresh tomatoes. Forget about eating it during the rest of the year, you can only make and enjoy a truly great gazpacho in the summer. Its charm lies in the exhilarating inverse proportion of sweltering hot (you) to icy cold (it). Think of it this way: if its hot enough to ripen tomatoes on the vine, it’s gazpacho time! I’m using Early Girl tomatoes because they are ready now. It’s only the fifth day of summer, after all, and I want to get a jump on this.
I like to use classic, juicy red tomatoes because they have the best, meaty tomato flavor. But I have a secret weapon for getting an extra dose of color and flavor into my gazpacho — I blend some roasted red peppers along with the tomatoes to brighten everything up. It gives the base of the soup a vivid shade and adds a layer of smokey flavor.
For the rest of the veggies, find the freshest possible…a nice, taut young cucumber (preferably pickling or English, they have less seeds) a deep purple red onion, and the brightest bell peppers you can locate. Grab a few cherry tomatoes for garnish, along with a few small edible blossoms. If you have a yard, you probably have some growing somewhere, and if you don’t have a yard, take a walk around the block and see what you can find. I have a list of common edible flowers in THIS POST.
I make the base the day before I want to serve the soup, that way the flavors have a chance to develop and it makes it so easy to assemble for a quick dinner with crusty bread and wine.
- 1 lb good red ripe tomatoes (I used Early Girl)
- 1/2 cup roasted red pepper
- 1 (5.5 oz) can tomato juice
- 1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar (substitute any vinegar you like)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- about an 8 inch piece of seedless cucumber
- small basil or cilantro leaves
- a few heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
- edible blossoms
- Wash the tomatoes and give them a rough chop. Add half of them to a food processor, along with the roasted red pepper, and process until very smooth. ,Whiz in the tomato juice.
- Add the rest of the tomatoes and pulse till they are incorporated but not quite as smooth, so you will have a little bit of texture.
- Season the soup with the vinegar, lemon, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and remove it to a bowl.
- Give the onion a rough chop and process it until very finely minced. Stir it into the soup. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or until ready to serve.
- When you are ready to serve, give the soup a stir and taste it to adjust the seasonings. It may need more salt, or more lemon, for instance. Then very finely mince the bell pepper and the cucumber.
- Ladle the soup into small bowls or cups, and put a little pile of the bell peppers and cucumbers in the center of each. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes, small basil or cilantro leaves, and edible flowers, if you have them. Serve immediately.