Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gazpacho time

Every devoted eater has some dishes that are wonderful to have around.  They come in relatively large quantities, are healthful and delicious, and taste good even if you eat them several days in a row.  My list of such good stuff includes tabouli, bean soup, red spaghetti sauce with meat, and deviled eggs.  Yes, it takes a bit of work to make a batch, but then it's there for your dining pleasure, for as long as you can stand to not devour every last bit of it. 

And in the summer, my list has gazpacho.  I inherited this recipe 40 years ago from my friend Gail, and it has changed a bit over the decades, but only to get more delicious.  This isn't the classic preparation from Spain, which includes bread, and it's decidedly not classic in that it has no fresh tomatoes.  But it's a good concept.

I start with a 46-ounce can of tomato juice, although you could use V-8.  I pour it into the blender in three batches, each time incorporating some solid vegetable matter.  I don't blend long enough to liquefy the vegetables, but keep tiny chunks.

You know how I feel about exact quantities in cooking (what a drag) so instead I eyeball approximations. 

First, the main vegetable substance.  One big can of tomato juice seems to handle a couple of stalks of celery, somewhere between a half and a whole cucumber, and a cup or more of salad olives, the low-end preparation that has broken green olives and a lot of pimento chunks stuffed haphazardly into the jar.  You could put in some green pepper or zucchini too.

Next, the flavorings.  A tablespoon of olive oil, a handful of chives (or half a small onion), a bit of garlic, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of lemon juice.  I cut the chives with scissors into small bits, because if you throw them into the blender whole, they tend to wrap around the blades like string and might even cause the motor to stall.

Finally, a bit of extra liquid.  I add a half-cup or so of red wine, and sometimes a can of beef broth.

I don't own a pitcher large enough to hold this batch of soup, so I assemble three mason jars on the counter.  Each time I whiz up a blender full of stuff, I divide it equally among the three jars.  At this point each jar should theoretically hold equal quantities of all ingredients, but to make sure, I have fun for a couple of minutes stirring the jars and pouring from one into another to mix them even more thoroughly.  After a taste test, sometimes it needs a bit more lemon juice or Worcestershire.

I generally end up with between two and three quarts of gazpacho.  For dinner, I serve it in teacups, on saucers, with spoons.  But for breakfast and lunch I just pour some into a glass and drink it.

I am particularly enamored of gazpacho for breakfast.  As healthy as you could possibly be, with practically nothing there but vegetables.  ¡Ole!


  1. I've never had gazpacho. Can you believe that? but nope, never. I am a total deviled egg diva however.

  2. I love gazpacho for breakfast in the summer! Mine is far from classic, also: fresh tomato, bell pepper, some squash if I have any, onion, garlic, and lemon juice. (It's been adapted over the years as my allergies change; I don't remember where I started from.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  3. since we're all in KY obviously we need to have a gazpacho and deviled egg party sometime

  4. I think a dash or two of Tabasco is warranted. But most important, where's the sherry? Dry vermouth will do in a pinch.

  5. Baby Brother alsoJuly 25, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    Also, I know you hate the stuff, but fresh tarragon adds a very interesting dimension to the stuff.

  6. Tabasco maybe (although Worcestershire does give it a pepper kick). Never thought to do sherry since there is already red wine, but I would try that. Tarragon over my dead body.