By Oonagh Williams
Many of the modern recipes for Gazpacho involve puréeing the soup in a blender and then just add chopped vegetables as a garnish. Traditionally, gazpacho is made by pounding the vegetables using a mortar and pestle. This method is still sometimes favored as it helps keep the gazpacho cool and avoids the completely smooth consistency, and foam, created by blenders and food processors. We are told that the recipe originated with the Moors in Spain and possibly the Romans before that, but since they only had a pestle and mortar for grinding, I also don’t purée my soup. I like to cut my vegetables into quite small pieces so several vegetables fit on my spoon at the same time. I use V8 vegetable juice as a base for various dishes. They do say on line that V8 is gf, I hate tomato juice so this soup puréed would just taste like tomato juice to me. But I love tomatoes. I also add plenty of fresh herbs in the summer, because that’s when all the fresh herbs are available same as all the fresh summer vegetables.
1 x 12 oz (350ml) can of regular V8 juice, they also make a spicy version.
½ lb (250g) wonderfully ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped small, retaining seeds and juices for the soup. I peel them by roasting them on the top of the gas stove just to blacken skin and then peeling once cool. It’s the way my father always did his tomato salad.
½ of English/European cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into small pieces. I don’t deseed. If you do deseed, then you will need more cucumber.
2 tbsp (30ml) green of green onions (spring onions, scallions) finely sliced
2 tbsp (30ml) chopped fresh parsley
¼ of a ripe red bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
¼ of a ripe yellow bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
½ cup (2-4 oz, 50-100g) corn- if you can grill a fresh ear of corn and then cut off niblets, do that.
2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil – I find extra virgin to be too assertive
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely crushed. – optional
½-1 tsp (2.5-5 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) white Balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1/2 c (4 fl oz, 120 ml) water, more if needed
salt and pepper to taste. I find V8 to be salty on its own, but after everything has blended and mellowed, then you might or might not want more salt. Your choice.
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh Basil finely chopped – optional
Several sprigs of fresh lemon thyme, leaves pulled off stems – optional
1 ripe avocado, halved, stone removed, cut into thin slices – for garnish
Small cooked salad shrimp for garnish.
1. Put everything except for avocado and shrimp into 6-8 cup (48-64 oz, 1.5-2 ltr) mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
2. Taste and adjust seasonings. Your taste for salt can be more or less than mine, you might like more lemon or vinegar in the soup. I love lot of fresh herbs, my husband only likes a few.
3. Serve each bowl of chilled soup with a garnish of cooked salad shrimp and sliced avocado as the photo shows. I saw this garnish on air and liked the idea of it. You could also put some good crab meat on top instead. Some cooked asparagus tips. I like to remove soup from fridge about 15-30 minutes before serving, as I don’t like it that cold on my teeth.
The quantities aren’t written in stone, so depending on quantities you used, the gazpacho might be thick or thin. I often add a bit more water or stock. But be aware if you only use a small quantity of vegetables, the soup can be tasteless. Ripe tomatoes are essential. Think about puréeing a freshly roasted red pepper in the V8 juice before adding vegetables. Think about using an immersion blender to slightly purée some of the vegetables to make a thicker base. It’s all down to your individual taste and what you fancy.