It’s warmed up again, sort of, so I blended up my second chilled, Spanish, tomato-based soup this week. I’m so thrilled tomatoes have arrived that I’m consuming them in every way I can think of.
I never much liked gazpacho, so I’d flagged an Orangette post in which she captured my gazpacho sentiment perfectly (“It often tastes flat and tinny, like canned tomato juice, and on a particularly unfortunate day, it can resemble a regrettable attempt at salsa.”) and provided a recipe she actually did enjoy. I made it today, and it’s wonderful. I also suspect that my previous attempts with gazpacho were executed with subpar tomatoes and olive oil. There’s nowhere to hide in five-ingredient Spanish food, though, so everything has really got to be top notch.
Damn Good Gazpacho
3 – 5 medium to large tomatoes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic cloves
½ of a green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ of a medium to large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ to ¾ of a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 – 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
Salt to taste
Put the olive oil in a blender, and blend on high speed until frothy. Add the garlic, and process briefly. Add the bell peppers, cucumber, a couple pinches of salt, and as many tomatoes as will fit comfortably into your blender. Process on high speed for a while, stopping the blender from time to time to scrape down the sides of the jar and mush around the ingredients as needed to allow the blender to run smoothly. (The mixture will be fairly thick until the tomatoes are pureed.) Let the blender go as long as you can stand the noise; the longer it goes, the better it will taste and the creamier it will be. Add 2 tablespoons of the sherry vinegar, and process to incorporate. Taste, and add vinegar and salt as needed.
Chill thoroughly before serving.
(the finished product)
My first chilled Spanish tomato soup of the week, however, was a salmorejo based on this recipe I ripped out of Bon Appetit a few months ago. I’d never heard of this soup until our trip to Spain last fall, when we ordered it at a restaurant attached to an olive oil shop in Seville. We were eating there with Jeff and sharing everything, and we liked this soup so much we ordered a second bowl. Someone probably licked it clean. This recipe lived up to my memory and was a great contribution to a backyard dinner party.
3 pounds ripe tomatoes
3 toasted, chopped slices white sandwich bread
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
4 smashed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Serrano ham or prosciutto, thinly sliced
Chopped hard-boiled egg
Squeeze seeds and pulp from halved tomatoes into a strainer set over a large bowl. Press solids to release as much liquid as possible; discard solids. [I didn’t do this either, just cut up the tomatoes and put all of it in.] Core and chop tomatoes; add to bowl.
Combine bread, almonds, and garlic cloves in a blender. Pulse until chopped. Add tomatoes with liquid to blender in batches, puréeing until very smooth. Add 1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar. With blender running, gradually add 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Purée until emulsified and frothy, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and more vinegar, if desired. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Season to taste again with salt and vinegar.
Divide soup among small bowls or glasses. Garnish with thinly sliced Serrano ham or prosciutto and chopped hard-boiled egg. Drizzle with more oil.
Summer is the best.