Gazpacho! The chilled, raw tomato and vegetable soup from Andalusia, Spain. Ever had it? Love it? Hate it? I can’t say I’ve always loved it, but if you get it right, gazpacho can be so good.
At its best, gazpacho is super refreshing and bursting with fresh-from-the-garden summer flavors. At its worst, gazpacho tastes like chunky cold salsa or thin tomato juice, neither of which do I particularly enjoy.
I wanted a texture somewhere in between the two, and far superior flavor. The trick, I discovered, is to blend half of ingredients into creamy oblivion. Then, add the other half and blitz until they break into tiny pieces. You’ll end up with a delicious, rich base, with tiny pieces of tomatoes, cucumber and pepper adding intrigue.
I used a Vidalia onion to kick the flavor up by a few more notches. Vidalias aren’t grown in Spain; they’re grown exclusively within 20 designated counties in South Georgia. The mild winters and low sulphur soil produce a distinctively mellow, sweet flavor that works well in recipes ranging from onion dip to dessert. Yes, dessert!
Vidalia onions are available only in the spring and summer (from April to August), so they seemed perfectly suited for gazpacho. Gazpacho is a raw soup, and other varieties of raw onion are too pungent to let the other flavors shine through. Combined with red, ripe, juicy summer tomatoes, this is the gazpacho that dreams are made of.
This recipe offers classic gazpacho flavor. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make it:
- Ripe red tomatoes: Tomatoes form the base of this raw soup. Tomatoes contain so much moisture that we don’t need to add any liquid before we blend the ingredients together. We’ll even reserve some fresh tomato seeds to garnish the soup (they’re so pretty).
- Sweet yellow onion: Onions are both savory and sweet. Don’t worry if the onion flavor seems overwhelming straight out of the blender. It mellows considerably as the soup chills in the fridge.
- Cucumber: Juicy cucumber adds another layer of fresh flavor.
- Red bell pepper: Gazpacho wouldn’t be complete without crisp, sweet bell pepper. Feel free to substitute an orange or yellow bell pepper for the red.
- Fresh basil: Basil makes this soup taste even more summery and irresistible.
- Garlic: You’ll just need one large clove.
- Olive oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is always the way to go.
- Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar: A small splash of vinegar makes this soup come alive.
Best Gazpacho Tips
Don’t add bread
Traditional gazpacho blends in white bread for body, but I found that it diluted the flavor. I also didn’t enjoy straining the gazpacho through a fine sieve afterward. Blending up the produce with olive oil produces a rich, creamy emulsion that has plenty of body, no sieve required.
That means that this easy gazpacho recipe is gluten free and full of good-for-you fiber thanks to the unfiltered vegetables.
If you’re in a hurry or want a totally smooth gazpacho, by all means, blend everything together at once (see the recipe notes for details on this shortcut).
I prefer my gazpacho with some texture. That’s why the recipe instructs you briefly blitz some of the ingredients into the soup instead of blending them all together at once.
If you love chunky gazpacho, you could just barely blend them into the soup.
Gazpacho needs time to chill
All good gazpachos need to spend a couple of hours in the refrigerator. This gives the flavors time to fully develop, and the soup time to chill completely.
Chop and reserve some of the ingredients for garnishing the soup later (see steps 1 and 2). It’s an extra step, but it’s worth the trouble if you want the beautiful gazpacho you see here.
I was all googly-eyed over the food and plating in Madrid a couple of months ago, so I wanted to present Spanish gazpacho in its full glory.
Please let me know how you like this gazpacho in the comments!
The Ultimate GazpachoCourse: SoupsCuisine: Spanish
This gazpacho recipe is the best! It’s a refreshing chilled summer soup, perfect for your garden tomatoes and cucumber. Be sure to make it in advance so the soup can chill for at least 2 hours. Recipe yields 5 cups, enough for 4 servings.
2 ½ pounds ripe red tomatoes (about 4 large or 9 small)
1 small Vidalia or sweet yellow onion (½ pound), peeled and cut into rough 1″ chunks
1 small cucumber (½ pound), peeled and seeded
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and seeded
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
1 large garlic clove, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare your veggies, place your blender bowl, a medium serving bowl, and a small bowl on the counter. Core the tomatoes and cut them into rough 1″ chunks. Reserve about ¼ cup of the juicy tomato seeds and place them in your small bowl (we’ll use them as a garnish later). Add half of the tomato chunks to the blender, and the other half to your serving bowl. Add all of the onion chunks to the blender.
- Cut off about one-fourth of the cucumber. Finely chop that piece and place it in the small bowl. Slice the rest of the cucumber into rough 1″ chunks, and divide them between the blender and the serving bowl. Cut off about one-fourth of the bell pepper, finely chop that piece, and add it to the small bowl. Slice the rest of the bell pepper into rough 1″ chunks and divide them between the blender and the serving bowl.
- To the blender, add the basil, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and about 10 twists of black pepper. Securely fasten the lid and blend, starting on low and increasing to high speed, until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Pour the contents of the serving bowl (the remaining chunks of tomato, cucumber and bell pepper) into the blender. Fasten the lid and blend for just 10 to 20 seconds, until the ingredients are broken up into small pieces. Stop there, or blend a little longer if you prefer smaller pieces.
- Add a small pinch of salt to the small bowl of garnishes, stir, and store it in the fridge. Chill the soup for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
- Before serving, taste, and add additional salt (I sometimes add another ¼ teaspoon) and/or black pepper if necessary. To serve, divide the soup into small bowls or cups, and top with the reserved cucumber and bell pepper. Top with a few tiny or torn basil leaves and a light sprinkle of pepper. Leftover servings keep well, covered and refrigerated, for 3 to 4 days.
- MAKE IT QUICK (SHORTCUT/SMOOTH SOUP METHOD): You can just cut the tomato, onion, cucumber and bell pepper into 1″ chunks, place them in the blender with the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Chill for at least 2 hours, add more salt or pepper if necessary, and garnish your soup with black pepper and a few tiny or torn basil leaves.
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: We’re switching away from Spanish cuisine here (I need more tapas recipes!), but I think this gazpacho would be lovely with my Italian chopped salad, herbed quinoa and chickpea salad, and Greek lentil salad.