The better tomatoes you use the better your gazpacho will be. Juicy tomatoes like plum tomatoes, or any other of the kind used for sauce, work best. If you are desperate for gazpacho but with no fresh tomatoes at hand, use tomato juice -tomato puree or canned tomato is not recommended- though once you have tried the real thing you will find the taste very different. The second most important ingredient for flavor is olive oil.
- Put the bread to soak in 2 cups of water in a large pot. Wash the tomatoes, chop them roughly -no need to peel them- and add to the pot with the bread.
- Peel and roughly chop the cucumber. Wash, cut stem, discard seeds and roughly chop the pepper. Add to the pot as you chop. Add the garlic, olive oil and salt.
- Use a hand held blender to liquidize the vegetables right in the pot. No need to process by batches or extra clean up.
- Strain the puree through a coarse sieve into a soup bowl. A food mill with a coarse bottom will also do. All tomato seeds and skin will be left in the sieve. Your gazpacho will be a smooth puree. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, best 2 hours. Check seasoning before serving.
- Dice finely some tomato, green pepper and peeled cucumber for garnish. Other popular garnishes are bread, in small cubes, finely chopped onion or chopped hard-boiled egg. Present garnishes in separate bowls, or a tray with divisions, and a serving spoon. Everyone can choose their favorite garnish or combination.
This is the family favorite version. You can become pretty creative with your gazpacho. I will list some suggestions:
- Add 1 Tbs or more of good quality white or red wine vinegar. Balsamic or herb vinegar is not usually a good choice.
- Add 1 onion besides or instead of garlic -we only like onion minced as garnish.
- We like to use only salt, but you can add black pepper to your taste. Other herbs and spices can be added, cumin or paprika are the ones we like best. From the herbs, probably basil, some people like coriander, either fresh chopped leaves or ground.
- We like green peppers, but use red, orange or yellow peppers.
- Add or substitute vegetables - For instance, add carrot or lettuce. Substitute tomatoes for watermelon, season with salt and black pepper. Substitute cucumber and green pepper for grilled vegetables.
If there is no time to chill the gazpacho, add ice cubes, though you might find the taste too strong; the strong garlic flavor mellows when gazpacho is let to chill.
Ideally, prepare your gazpacho when you get up in the morning, it will be perfect for your lunch or evening meal. If you prepare it the evening before, it will also be fine.
Be creative with the garnishes as well... why don't you try croutons, basil leaves, chopped olives, or tiny bits of salted anchovies?