by Amanda Mattos
My new roommate may have just been buttering me up when he said that, but I’d like to think he was telling the truth. I think a lot of gazpacho recipes go wrong when they try to make them too… well, soupy. I prefer something that’s less like a bloody mary and more like salsa that you eat without chips. I didn’t really break any new ground when I made gazpacho this weekend, but I did make it almost entirely out of things I grew in my little garden. I’ve only got about a 3×3 space in the corner of my row house’s front yard, but it’s given most everything I need for the summer. When ingredients are that fresh, and that local, it’s bound to make anything more delicious.
I have three different tomato plants in my garden — one beefsteak, one heirloom variety and one whose type I can’t remember but produces buttloads of delicious little bell-shaped tomatoes. I used one of each of those, and supplemented with a handful of cherry tomatoes I had leftover from the Bloomingdale Farmers Market. They were all on the small side, so I’d say if you were just shopping for tomatoes to use, get 2-3 medium sized tomatoes and that should do it.
I also have a completely coo-coo cucumber plant that’s been producing fruit so large that everybody who walks past my garden gets sort of embarrassed by the flood of phallic jokes that come to mind. So, one of those gigantic things went into the mix as well. (Peeled)
I’ve also got about 5 different types of pepper plants and your standard herb plot. From that I plucked one big jalapeno and 3 big stalks of basil.
Aside from that lot, all I needed were the salt, pepper, garlic and lemons already in my kitchen and the red onion I walked across the street to Windows to buy. After the jump: actually making the gazpacho.
Gazpacho is insanely simple. Especially if you have a food processor. When you’re pulsing the vegetables, be careful not to over do it. You don’t want a puree — you just want it all to be roughly diced together. You could do this with a knife if you wanted to, but I prefer the smoother (and way, way simpler) method of just chucking it in ole’ choppy. If you let it go too long, you’ll basically get juice. You want something that you can still chew on a little bit. (I realize pictures would have been helpful, but I didn’t take any. Sorry.)
I made this in three stages. I think letting each piece get chopped up on its own helped to keep the flavors separate in the final soup.
First: tomatoes. Slice the bigger fruits into chunks, and throw them in the processor. Before you pulse, sprinkle with salt and squeeze juice of about half a lemon. Let it get to that nice choppy texture, and pour it into a bowl.
Next up: the cucumbers. Do the exact same thing you did with the tomatoes – cut into smaller pieces, salt, lemon juice, pulse, add to the bowl.
Finally: everything else. 4 garlic cloves, the leaves of three basil stalks (about 1/2 cup?), the jalapeno, a little more salt, a little fresh ground black pepper, and some more lemon juice. Pulse till they’re all working as a team, and pour that into the soup. Stir it all together, and it’s gazpacho time!
UPDATE: I forgot to mention here that this I also put the onion in with this lot. I used about 1/4 of a red onion. Also, 4 garlic cloves was a little too much. I’d recommend going with 3.
I let the soup sit for about 12 hours before serving it. Really gave the flavors a chance to get to know each other. I also learned that gazpacho + whole wheat bread with cream cheese = great hangover food.