Step forward, Gazpacho: King of the Chilled Soups. The Spanish had the exact right idea when they created gazpacho. Masses of veggies (and a little bread), whizzed up, forgotten about in the fridge for a couple of hours, and BAM - ladleful upon ladleful of delicious, refreshing soup. It lasts for ages (providing you don't scoff it all), and this recipe lends itself to increasing the quantity as you so desire.
Gazpacho (serves 6)
You will need:
- 2-3 slices thick white bread, crusts removed (should be around 100g once the crusts are off)
- 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1kg fresh, ripe tomatoes
- 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped (leave a small piece for the garnish)
- 1 small red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thickly (set aside a 2-inch piece for the garnish)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- A generous glug of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
To garnish (optional)
- Some spring onion, finely sliced
- The remaining cucumber, finely chopped
- The remaining red pepper, finely chopped
- Put the kettle on to boil.
- Rip up the bread and place in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the sherry vinegar, plus the crushed garlic cloves. Pour on 100ml of cold water, give everything a sploosh around, and set aside while you get on with the rest.
- In a large bowl or jug, cover the whole tomatoes with boiling water. Leave for about a minute, then rinse under cold water. Peel the tomatoes (the skin should now slide off easily), then quarter them and remove the seeds and core into a sieve over a large bowl. Retain the juice and flesh, and throw away the skins, seeds and fibrous stuff.
- In a food processor, or in a very large bowl with a blender on a stick (I believe the correct terminology is 'hand blender', but since hand blending is exactly what mine once did to me, I just can't bring myself to call it by its proper name), blitz the soaked bread, garlic, tomato flesh and juice, peppers, onion, cucumber, remaining tablespoon of sherry vinegar, paprika and olive oil (a simpler thing to say might have been EVERYTHING, but I'm just making sure we've accounted for all the ingredients here).
- When the soup is roughly blended, pause to taste and season. Stop there if you prefer a coarse soup, or carry on blending until it's smooth if that's more your thing.
- Cover, and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Serve with some chopped spring onion, cucumber and red pepper on top of each bowlful.
- Weep with gratitude for the Spanish nation and their lovely, lovely gazpacho. The tears will cool you down.