Classic Gazpacho with Tiny Olive Croutons
Here is the coral-pink Sevillian gazpacho that most foreigners are familiar with. Ripe, gorgeous tomatoes; excellent olive oil (preferably Andalusian hojiblanca); and a good aged (reserve) sherry vinegar make the soup unforgettable. It’s as good as classic gazpacho gets! Although the original mortar-pounded gazpachos were probably rather coarse in texture, modern Spanish cooks like their soup silky smooth. I suggest using a food processor to puree the vegetables, then switching to a blender to achieve a velvety texture. OK, so you might have to rinse an extra utensil, but the payoff is worth it, and the blender sure beats the tedious traditional method of forcing the vegetables through a fine sieve.
If making the gazpacho a day ahead, do not add the garlic more than 2 to 3 hours before serving, or it may overwhelm other flavors.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Dietary Considerationhealthy, vegetarian
Equipmentblender, food processor
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturefrothy, light, savory
Type of Dishcold soup
- 2 cups cubed day-old country bread, crusts removed
- 2 medium-size garlic cloves, chopped (see Note)
- 1 small pinch of cumin seeds or ground cumin
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 3 pounds ripest, most flavorful tomatoes possible, seeded and chopped
- 2 small Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, peeled and chopped
- 1 large Italian (frying) pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 1 medium-size red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
- ½ cup fragrant extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup chilled bottled spring water, or more as needed
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, preferably aged, or more to taste
- Finely diced cucumber
- Finely diced peeled Granny Smith apple
- Finely diced slightly under-ripe tomato
- Finely diced green bell pepper
- Slivered small basil leaves
- About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter, melted
- 1/3 cup ¼-inch bread cubes
Place the bread in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Place the garlic, cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them to a paste.
Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, Italian and red peppers, onion, soaked bread, and the garlic pate in a large bowl and toss to mix. Let stand for about 15minutes. Working in two batches, place the vegetable mixture in a food processor and process until smooth, adding half of the olive oil to each batch. Once each batch is finished, puree it finely in a blender, then transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
When all the gazpacho has been pureed, whisk in the spring water and vinegar. It should have the consistency of a smoothie. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or vinegar as necessary. Refrigerate the gazpacho, covered, until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve the soup in glass bowls or wineglasses with the garnishes.
For fried croutons: Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until a bread cube dropped in the oil sizzles on contact. Add the bread and cook, stirring, until crunchy and golden brown, 1 to 1½ minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the croutons to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
For baked croutons: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or melted butter. Spread the bread cubes out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
2005 Anya von Bremzen