Cooking the Books: Creamy Gazpacho Andaluz

Vegetables Illustrated cookbook on wooden butcher block surrounded by fresh veggies

From time to time, Bas Bleu’s editorial staff “samples” recipes from cookbooks and other culinary guides found in our catalog. Our efforts are amateur at best: If you’re looking for advanced epicurean know-how or glossy food photography, you’re about to be disappointed. We’re humble home cooks, you see, like (most of) you—pressed for time, with non-matching cookware and the tendency to scatter flour everywhere. But we know delicious when we taste it, and if you try your hand at these recipes we think you’ll agree!

Officially, the dog days of summer are right around the corner. But why does it feel like they showed up early??? Stepping outside feels like stepping into an oven, and the last thing we want to do at mealtime is turn on a real oven. So what’s a hungry bluestocking to do? Make gazpacho!

This summer soup has its roots in the Roman Empire, when Roman soldiers combined their rations of garlic, bread, olive oil, and vinegar into a nourishing gruel. After tomatoes were brought to Europe from the New World, they were added to the garlic and oil soup, and the dish we know as “gazpacho” was born. The Andalusian region of southern Spain usually earns credit for tomato gazpacho, popularized by agricultural laborers who added local produce to the traditional Roman garlic-and-oil mixture. The result: a refreshing, nutritious cold soup that today is a summer staple in Spanish and Portuguese households and restaurants. Now you can bring Andalusia to your kitchen with this delicious recipe for Creamy Gazpacho Andaluz from Vegetables Illustrated, created by the expert chefs at America’s Test Kitchen.

Creamy Gazpacho Andaluz
Serves 4 to 6
Total time: 30 minutes (plus 1 hour draining time and 2 hours chilling time)

Why This Recipe Works Open nearly any refrigerator in Spain in the summertime and you’ll find a pitcher of refreshing gazpacho. The key to fresh tomato flavor in our gazpacho Andaluz recipe was salting the tomatoes and letting them sit to concentrate flavor. We did the same with the cucumber, bell pepper, and red onion and soaked the bread, which we used to thicken the soup, in the exuded vegetable juices. A final dash of olive oil and sherry vinegar further brightened the flavors, and a diced-vegetable garnish made our gazpacho Andaluz look as fresh as it tasted. The success of this recipe depends on using ripe, in-season tomatoes. For fullest flavor, refrigerate the gazpacho overnight before serving. Red wine vinegar can be substituted for the sherry vinegar.

            3          pounds ripe tomatoes, cored
            1          small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
            1          green bell pepper, stemmed, halved, and seeded
            1          small red onion, peeled and halved
            2          garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
            1          small serrano chile, stemmed and halved lengthwise
                        Salt and pepper
            1          slice hearty white sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1‑inch pieces
            ½         cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
            2          tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus extra for serving
            2          tablespoons minced fresh parsley, chives, or basil

1.   Coarsely chop 2 pounds tomatoes, half of cucumber, half of bell pepper, and half of onion and place in large bowl. Add garlic, serrano, and ¾ teaspoon salt and toss to combine.

2.   Cut remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper into ¼-inch pieces and place in medium bowl. Finely chop remaining onion and add to vegetables. Toss with ¼ teaspoon salt and transfer to fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let drain for 1 hour. Transfer drained vegetables to second medium bowl and set aside, reserving liquid (you should have about 1/4 cup liquid. Discard any extra liquid).

3.   Add bread to reserved liquid and soak for 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to coarsely chopped vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.

4.   Transfer half of vegetable-bread mixture to blender and process for 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup oil in steady stream and continue to process until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain soup through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, using back of ladle or rubber spatula to press soup through strainer; discard remaining solids. Repeat with remaining vegetable-bread mixture and remaining 1/4 cup oil.

5.   Stir vinegar, parsley, and half of drained vegetables into soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled and flavors meld, about 2 hours. Serve, passing remaining drained vegetables, extra oil, extra vinegar, and pepper separately.

Recipe from our partners at America’s Test Kitchen

 


Let’s face it: We can all use more vegetables in our diet. Thickened with healthy olive oil and a slice of rustic bread, this gazpacho is packed with nutrients. (Our recipe tester forgot to pick up a serrano chile at the farmer’s market, but the soup was delicious even without it.)

Yes, there will be chopping. Lots of chopping. But you can’t make gazpacho without breaking–er, slicing and dicing–some vegetables. You can see the diced veggies on the right are already beginning to drain just minutes after being placed in the strainer.

Don’t worry if the bread is stale or if it isn’t fully soaked in vegetable juice. You just want it flavored/softened enough by the juice to puree smoothly.

You could probably use a food processor in lieu of a blender, but the pour spout on the blender does come in handy.

Feel free to reuse the sieve or strainer in which you drained the diced veggies. This batch of gazpacho was strained by pressing with the back of a ladle. The solids left behind look a little icky, but be patient: You’ll be surprised how much liquid is expressed!

The final product! Cool, crisp, and flavorful, Creamy Gazpacho Andaluz is perfect for snacking or as an addition to your summer suppers. Depending on how smooth you puree your gazpacho, try serving it in drinking glasses, as a refreshing thirst-quencher!

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