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Last November we spent almost two weeks in Spain and we spent the majority of our time in Barcelona. Almost wherever you look, structures by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi rise from the pavement. He’s renowned for unbelievable religious structures (Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família), stunning apartments (La Pedrera), and even decorative furniture. We walked and walked from la Sagrada Família to his apartment building to the Museo Nacional D’art de Catalunya, marveling at his genius.
While art and architecture were high on our “must see” list, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I researched Spanish cuisine ahead of time and selected a day-long market tour and cooking workshop at “Cook and Taste,” one of the best cooking schools I’ve been to IN THE WORLD. Yes, compared to other one-day cooking schools I found this to be perfect: the space was well-equipped, the recipes we made reflected authentic Spanish cuisine, the instructor Carla knew her stuff, and the class size of just 10 students seemed ideal for hands on cooking.
One of Carla’s most tantalizing recipes was Gazpacho, which, incidentally, appeared on virtually every menu throughout Spain. So in mid-August, when my patio cherry tomato plants produced more sweet tomatoes than I could imagine, I plucked the little darlings and made gazpacho for a Sunday evening dinner. It was a rare warm evening and this chilled soup hit the spot. Plus, every single item happened to be seasonal and available at the farmers markets – the perfect “locally grown” dish.
My version reflects my cooking style: I streamlined the method by not peeling or seeding the tomatoes. Though I learned the original from Carla, the recipe below is really my own. Remember that you can add more or less of anything as you taste along the way.
- 1 ½ pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, divided (cherry or regular-size tomatoes)
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes in juice (I use organic Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes)
- 1 cup English cucumber, peeled and divided – remove seeds from one half only
- ½ cup chopped red bell pepper – divided (dice half this amount into ¼ inch pieces and the other part into 1” squares)
- ½ cup red onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp tomato paste (I keep a tube of this in the refrigerator)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt, or to taste
- 1 ½ tsp granulated sugar or more to taste
- Sriracha hot sauce-to taste ( I add a squirt at a time)
- ½ cup tomato juice or more if you want the soup less “thick” (optional)
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chiffonade for garnish
Dice half the tomatoes into ¼ inch pieces (no need to peel or seed) and the other tomatoes into 1 inch pieces.
Dice ¼ inch pieces the peeled, seeded cucumber. The other half goes with the coarsely cut tomato and doesn’t need to be seeded but should be peeled and cut into 1 inch slices.
Dice half of the red pepper into ¼ inch pieces. The other half can be in 1 inch pieces.
Put the ¼ inch diced tomato, cucumber and red pepper together into a bowl and set aside.
The rest of the tomato, cucumber and red pepper should be placed in a blender with red onion, jalapeno, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt, sugar, tomato paste, sriracha and canned tomatoes with juice. Pulse a few times until the large pieces start to combine and then blend about 30 seconds at high speed until smooth. Add tomato juice to thin it out a bit if you wish (I added about 1 cup).
Return the pureed mixture to a large glass bowl or container and stir in the small diced tomatoes, cucumber and red pepper. Taste and add more salt, sugar, or sriracha.
Cover and chill for 2 hours or overnight. The soup is actually better the following day, and can be served chilled or at room temperature. Serve with a chiffonade of basil on top for garnish.
Note: The color of my gazpacho is a little bit orange because some of my patio cherry tomatoes were yellow.
In Spain they flavored and garnished the soup with smoked idiazabal cheese.
My son Jake prefers the vegetables very, very finely diced rather than larger, but my husband likes the coarseness of the chopped vegetables against the smooth pureed background of the blended vegetable soup. There are smooth applesauce lovers and chunky applesauce lovers, so in the same vein you, can make this more chunky or smooth depending on your side of the aisle. Suit yourself!