One of the best bowls of gazpacho I ever tasted was at a restaurant (can’t remember its name, unfortunately) in 2002 in St. Helena, California. Brad and I were on our honeymoon and decided after leaving Hawaii to spend a few days in Napa Valley and San Francisco before coming back home to Raleigh. The temperatures in Napa were in the high-90s to low-100s and a chilled bowl of gazpacho was just the ticket. This one was fantastic, with nice chunks of tomato, celery, cucumber, onion, corn and other great ingredients. I’ve worked for years to recreate this wonderful gazpacho, and have come up with my own recipe that will make you come back for seconds! Go ahead – it’s low-calorie and good for you to boot!
Now that veggies are in full season in Raleigh, especially the tomatoes that make or break this soup, I visited the Farmer’s Market to stock up on what I needed to make this cool and hearty gazpacho. It does take time to chop all of the vegetables (I refuse to use my food processor for this), but it is well worth the effort at the end. This is one of my all-time favorite soups ever!
Ingredients (serves 8 or so)
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced small (I used three romas and one large field grown)
- 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seed and diced small
- 3 stalks celery (approx. 1 cup) diced small
- 2 ears corn kernels (I used Silver Queen, boiled for 7-8 minutes – you don’t want the kernels too soft.)
- 3 banana peppers finely diced (I picked these from my garden. You can substitute with peppers of choice.)
- ¾ cup sweet onion, diced small
- ¼ cup fresh sweet basil, cut into tiny pieces
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups tomato or vegetable juice (if you use vegetable, you may want to alter the seasonings to taste.)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ tablespoon Worstershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar (this cuts the acid of the tomatoes)
- ½ lime, juiced
- Garlic salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Hot sauce to taste
- homemade croutons (see recipe below)
- spring onions (both white and green parts cut into small pieces)
- avocado slices
Combine the first eight ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the tomato juice and the rest of the ingredients, mix together well. Chill for several hours so that the flavors have time to develop and and meld together.
Once you are ready to serve, add your favorite garnishes. Serve immediately – the colder it is, the better. This keeps in the refrigerator for several days in a non-reactive container.
These are so easy to make and much better than any of the prepackaged ones. And this recipe has just four simple ingredients. Even the kids prefer these fresh croutons over the store-bought ones!
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 3 slices of crusty bread (I use the La Brea Three Cheese Semolina from Harris Teeter, so the slices tend to be smaller than regular loaf bread.)
- Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Garlic salt to taste
Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium pan. Cut bread into small cubes, and add to the melted butter.
Drizzle with the olive oil, and add garlic salt to taste. Brown the bread cubes on all sides and then drain them on a paper towel to absorb some of the butter and oil.
Most restaurants (at least around Raleigh) only serve gazpacho in the summer to take advantage of the local, fresh vegetables. If you know of any restaurants serving great gazpachos in our area right now, please let me know. And, no, they do not need to be chunky like mine. Most places tend to puree the ingredients, and that’s fine, as long as it tastes good (see my recent posting on Zelo in Minneapolis for an example of a good, pureed gazpacho.)
Eat, drink and be merry!