For years we have been making Gazpacho based on a recipe from our dear friend Pam. Mostly we make it in summer when there are plenty of fresh ripe vegetables available from the garden. But passable Gazpacho can be made any time of the year, what with the almost universal availability of fresh key ingredients in local markets (we’ll ignore the carbon foot print for now and agree to disagree that, in fact, the produce in the supermarket is “fresh”). In this version I used what vegetables were at hand in the pantry – salad tomatoes, salad peppers and small hot-house cucumbers.
This is a variation on Pam’s original (I don’t know where she got it from) that substitutes Maggi Seasoning for the Worcestershire Sauce in Pam’s version. Maggi is popular in Hispanic cooking (even though it’s made in China by the Swiss company, NESTLÉ®). It should be available in any well stocked market or from any Hispanic grocery, otherwise use Worcestershire. Many, more traditional, gazpachos include bread to thicken the soup. I don’t like what that does to the color of the finished dish so I include the bread as rustic croutons to top the soup.
Gazpacho ala Pam
1 C. fresh Tomato, chopped (you can peel them if you wish – I don’t)
1/2 C. Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 C. Celery, chopped (include any tender leaves you may have)
1/2 C. Cucumber, chopped
1/4 C. Onion, chopped
Note: I chopped the vegetables above to 1/4″ – 3/8″. You can chop more finely if you want a more refined soup or puree about half the chopped vegetables in a blender reserving the rest to add back to the puree for some texture. I like mine chunky so I don’t puree. My end product is more like a liquid salad than a soup.
2 tsp. Parsley, snipped
1 tsp. Chives, snipped (include some blossoms if available)
1 clove Garlic (or more to taste), minced
2 – 3 Tbs. Sherry Vinegar
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Maggi Seasoning (or substitute Worcestershire Sauce)
a couple of shakes of any hot sauce, like Franks, Tabasco, Cholula, etc.
2 C. Tomato juice
2 slices of rustic bread like Ciabatta or other similar country bread, crusts removed, torn into rough cubes
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
Combine all the ingredients except the bread and 1 Tbs. of olive oil in a stainless, ceramic or glass bowl. Cover and chill. This makes 1 liter of finished Gazpacho.
Toss the bread with 1 Tbs. olive oil and toast in a medium hot pan until the pieces are colored on a few sides. Set aside to cool.
Serve the gazpacho cold, drizzled with some good extra virgin olive oil and topped with the toasted croutons and chive blossoms (if you have them). Serves 6 as a soup or starter course or two, generously, as a main dish.
For a somewhat jazzier presentation, garnish with additional chopped tomato, pepper, celery, onion or chive blossoms; or for an spiffier version add cooked egg, avocado or chilled, chopped shrimp.