Doesn’t matter who you’re rooting for in the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. Gazpacho is a Spanish soup but it’s an all around winner and almost everyone loves it, so it’s a good dish to serve to friends who might be watching the game with you Sunday.
The first time I ever tried Gazpacho was right after my brother Jeff and sister-in-law Eileen returned from their honeymoon in Spain and they invited the family over for dinner. Eileen, who’s good at lots of stuff, will be the first to admit that she’s not such a great cook. But she was determined to make Gazpacho for us.
It took her seven hours, not including the shopping. In her effort to make the dish the authentic way, she traveled to a distant neighborhood to find perfect produce from a Spanish market, hand-chopped the vegetables rather than use a food processor and ground the bread and herbs using a mortar and pestle that she borrowed from her grandmother.
The soup was fabulous. Plump, ripe, fruity summer tomatoes. Crunchy bell peppers. Icy-crisp sweet cucumbers. Homemade, well-seasoned croutons.
She never made it again. And once we heard how long it took her no one asked for the recipe. Who would bother??
A few years ago, for a food column, I played around with Eileen’s recipe. I wanted readers to be able to make this recipe — the easy way. It still requires several steps, but it won’t take you seven hours to make. Here’s the modern, still-tasting-authentic version. You might have to do this in portions, depending on the size of your food processor.
Food Processor Andalusian Gazpacho
5 ripe tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
4 slices homestyle white bread, torn into small pieces
2 large cloves garlic
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
salt to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Croutons (or use packaged):
4 slices homestyle white bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt to taste
chopped green bell pepper, scallions, cucumber and fresh chili pepper
To make the soup, cut the tomatoes in half, crosswise and squeeze out the seeds. Chop the tomatoes and set aside. Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Chop the cucumber and set aside. Remove the stem and top of the bell pepper, cut in half and remove the seeds and pith. Chop the pepper and set aside. Place the bread, garlic cloves, onion and olive oil in a food processor. Process until finely minced. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice during the process. Add the water and a shake of salt and process for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper and process to the desired consistency. Pour into a large bowl and add the wine vinegar, tomato juice, basil or oregano and parsley. Refrigerate for at least one hour to let flavors blend. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup topped with croutons and garnish on the side. Makes 6 servings
To make croutons: trim the crusts from the bread and dice the slices. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread. Sprinkle with basil and salt to taste. Cook, tossing the bread occasionally, for several minutes until the dice are toasty brown. Dish out and set aside.
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