Today I’m making Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho ~ I look forward to making this chilled raw soup from Spain every summer, and this year I’ve changed it up with some gorgeous multi-colored heirloom tomatoes. If you love tomatoes, love to eat healthy, or just love to wow your friends and family, you’re definitely going to love this recipe!
Heirloom tomatoes are one of the big thrills of my summer ~ I practically leap out of bed on Sunday mornings in July and August to head over to the farmers market. Hopefully I get there before too many local chefs have grabbed all the good ones.
TIP: There is nothing more refreshing than a bowl of ice cold gazpacho, so when the temps soar into the triple digits where you are, don’t sweat it, do what I do ~ make soup!
Since I love chilled soups in the heat of the summer, and classic gazpacho is one of my favorites, I thought it would be fun to experiment with the different flavors and colors I could get using multi-hued heirloom tomatoes instead of the standard red variety.
But I knew if I just dumped all the colors into my blender I’d wind up with something in the boring beige family, so I decided to do individual small batches with each type of tomato. My experiment was a resounding success!
Each variety made a uniquely beautiful heirloom tomato gazpacho with an equally unique flavor profile ~ and I had a lot of fun watching the colors bloom as I blended them up in my Vitamix. It was just as much fun choosing the contrasting garnishes.
The complex flavors of heirloom tomatoes can be compared to the flavors of wine grapes or olive varietals, in that they vary according to location, soil and growing conditions.
- Heirloom tomatoes are tomatoes that haven’t been cross bred with other tomatoes, they’ve been passed down, intact, among families and communities, across the country.
- As a result they are full of ‘personality’ ~ they aren’t always symmetrical and grow in odd, bumpy shapes that can be hard to slice evenly.
- Heirlooms have more interesting, varied flavors, whereas commercial tomatoes have had the flavor systematically bred out of them for decades in favor of perfectly round shapes and bright red color.
- Because Heirlooms aren’t selectively bred to be hardy, they bruise very easily, but their gorgeous color and sweet flavors are worth putting up with a few bumps and bruises.
- You’ll find heirloom tomatoes in both full size and cherry tomato size, so keep an eye out for them at your local markets. Trader Joe’s carries them most of the year.
The colors of heirloom tomatoes are so intriguing…what’s on the outside isn’t always what’s on the inside, and it’s an adventure just slicing one in half. A ‘black’ heirloom tomato might be crimson inside, and a green one might have gorgeous pink veining running through it.
TIP: Use one medium or 2 smaller tomatoes for each bowl of heirloom tomato gazpacho. Blending them up separately allows the subtle colors to shine.
A classic tomato gazpacho can, if done badly, taste like a cold glass of V8. Not these. Heirloom tomatoes are fruity, sweet, and less acidic than regular tomatoes. A little olive oil loosens and enriches the puree, and a splash of sherry vinegar livens it up. I finely mince the classic gazpacho add-ins like red onions, bell peppers, and cukes for a nice bit of texture.
TIP: To serve, spoon some of the chopped veggies into the bottom of each small bowl, and then top with the tomato puree. Garnish with more of the chopped veggies, and fresh herbs, in contrasting colors.
Can you stand it? This heirloom tomato gazpacho would be so pretty at a shower or wedding. I’d love to serve them in tiny ‘shooter’ style glasses ~ imagine all the colors laid out on a big table!
At dinnertime I handed my husband a spoon and we taste tested to choose our favorite ~ each one really does have its own unique personality, and I haven’t eaten anything this refreshing in a long time, I highly recommend this recipe. And if you love chilled soups as much as I do, follow me on Pinterest, my CHILLED SOUPS board is one of my favorites!
- 4 large assorted heirloom tomatoes (or 8 small to medium tomatoes)
- 8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
- 4 peeled garlic cloves (optional)
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup finely minced cucumber (I used small Persian cukes and didn't peel)
- 1/2 cup finely minced yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely minced pale green cubanelle pepper (or other sweet green pepper)
- 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
- 2 Tbsp finely minced black olives
- cilantro leaves
- basil leaves
- thinly sliced jalapeno
- Work with each color tomato separately. Cut the tomato in large chunks and add to a food processor or high speed blender. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and one garlic clove, if using. Blend until smooth. Add salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Do this with all four of your tomatoes and then refrigerate the purees until they are nice and cold before serving.
- When ready to serve, put some of the minced cuke, onion, and pepper in the bottom of each of 4 small bowls. Fill each bowl with gazpacho, and then top with a contrasting color of cuke, pepper, onion, or olives.
- Serve cold, garnished with fresh herbs and jalapeno slices. I like more cracked pepper, too.
Make it your own ~
- Only have red tomatoes? ~ no problem, the original is made with red ripe tomatoes.
- Worcestershire sauce gives gazpacho a nice kick, as does hot sauce.
- If you have some truly wonderful olive oil, drizzle more on just before serving.
- For a rustic look garnish with homemade croutons.
- If you’re stuck with bland tomatoes, puree them with some jarred roasted red peppers for a color and flavor boost.
- There are lots of chilled soup recipes out there, Chilled Cucumber Soup is a classic, but I also love this Spicy White Bean and Corn Soup, and this Chilled Persian Yogurt Soup, isn’t it gorgeous? And if you’re adventurous, I think this Chilled Raspberry Chile Soup sounds incredible.