Recipe for Traditional Gazpacho Soup

Gazpacho soup is the perfect Spanish dish for hot summer days, when you want flavour without heat. Satisfying and substantial, it is served well chilled, to cool you down while giving you the flavour you crave. If you don’t feel like cooking, this is the dish to make: a little bit of chopping and blending, straining through the sieve and enough time in the fridge to cool off and you have bowls of flavour waiting to delight the taste buds.

One thing to note here: gazpacho is essentially a summer dish. It needs perfectly ripe and flavoursome tomatoes to be worth making, otherwise most of the flavour is lost. So save this recipe until there is a glut of gorgeous tomatoes to be used up. As with most traditional Spanish dishes, Gazpacho was developed as a peasant dish that makes the most of cheap and plentiful ingredients, ripe tomatoes, ripe peppers, old bread, olive oil and garlic in this case, and summer is the time for enjoying gazpacho.

Ingredients:

100g/3oz crusty white bread (slightly stale is best)

1kg/2.2lbs ripe tomatoes

1 ripe red pepper

1 green pepper

1 cucumber

2 cloves garlic

125ml/ ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff!)

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or wine vinegar)

Salt

Garnishes (discussed below)

Tear the bread into pieces and soak it in cold water for 20 minutes.

Dice the tomatoes. De-seed the peppers and dice them. Peel and dice the cucumber. Peel and crush the garlic.

Put the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and garlic with the olive oil into a blender or food processor.

Squeeze out the bread with your hands, until most of the water is out. Add it to the blender.

Blend everything together until smooth.

Add salt and vinegar to taste.

Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any bits.

Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. It should be well chilled. Give yourself enough time. In an emergency you can add ice cubes but these will dilute the flavour so are not ideal.

Gazpacho is often served with garnishes. These can be as simple as croutons and a swirl of olive oil, or get more complicated: chopped hard-boiled egg, diced black olives, small dice of cucumber and peppers, chopped mint or parsley are all good options. The garnishes can be served alongside in small bowls so that everyone can choose their own combination.

Try out the gazpacho soups served in some of Leicestershire’s Spanish restaurants if you want to get an idea of the versatility of this traditional Spanish recipe.

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