Back in the day, I was very smug in my academic knowledge of the culinary category of cold soup-dom. Let me set the stage – my downstate hometown was a wonderful place to grow up, but we didn’t have much occasion to eat cold soup like gazpacho or vichyssoise for that matter. We liked our soup like our women….hot.
As a little girl I remember coming across an article about cold soup in one of the Good Housekeeping or Ladies Home Journal or Redbook magazines at my dentist office. Completely intrigued, I researched the whole topic (how did we do that pre-Google?). Gazpacho is a Spanish based, cold, raw soup with a tomato base and loads of fresh vegetables. Sounded sophisticated and wonderful! Couldn’t wait to try it.
Vichyssoise – cold potato soup? Not so much.
Fast forward many years to my first big girl business lunch at my first post college job in big, scary downtown Chicago. I had on my pumps and my requisite white button down with a silk bow tied at the neck. Just a wee bit intimidated (really scared shit-less) trying to navigate the menu, participate in the conversation with my elders and make sure I knew which of the three forks to use for what.
That’s when I spotted gazpacho on the menu. I could finally try it! All the other stuff fell away, I was transported back to that dentist’s office as a little girl and I quickly ordered. One of the elders was not familiar with gazpacho so I regaled him with my extensive knowledge, never admitting that I had yet to try it.
The first bite was incredible but surprising. This was not sophisticated after all, just fresh and acidic and oh-so-tasty. Homey and comfortable. I could taste the tomato and the cucumber and the bell peppers separately but then all the flavors came together to create something bigger and better and delicious. Definitely worth the wait.
inspired by Ina Garten and also Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal or Redbook (can’t remember which one).
6-8 plum tomatoes, cut in half, remove seeds (keep the pulp though) and cut into one inch cubes
2 cucumbers, skin on, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and cut into one inch cubes
3 yellow bell peppers, remove stems and seeds and cut in one inch cubes
1 red onion, cut into one inch cubes
4-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
6 cups tomato juice
salt and pepper to taste
The trick to keeping each vegetable flavor separate and not muddling the flavors is to process each vegetable separately in the food processor. Put the one inch cubes of each vegetable in the food processor one at a time and pulse 8-10 times to roughly chop the vegetable. Once processed, add to a big bowl. Don’t over process or you will have a boring, baby food mess!
Stir all together and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together olive oil and white wine vinegar. Pour over vegetables and stir. Let all the vegetables have a minute to soak up the great flavors in the vinegar and oil. Add the tomato juice. Stir again. Refrigerate until time to serve. I love serving gazpacho with mini melted cheese toasts. Enjoy!!