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There's a saying in Spain, “De gazpacho, no hay empacho.” You can never have too much of a good thing – that is, a good thing like gazpacho!
Gazpacho refreshes deeply, which is a welcome treat on extra hot days. It's also completely raw and served cold, so it nourishes deeply as well. The cucumbers quench your thirst, the tomatoes and peppers are packed with anti-cancer carotenoids and enhance immunological response, and the garlic and onions bring a definite wallop of antibacterial and antifungal properties.
And with these particular foods, those vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidant compounds are most available in their raw state, so gazpacho is a wonderful way to get a large serving of vegetables. Did you know that red bell peppers have nearly twice as much Vitamin C as the average orange?
Of course, many of those lovely vitamins, such as A, E, and K, are fat-soluble, so they require a fat in order to be assimilated into the body. Olive oil is especially nice with these flavors – either drizzling it on the soup or serving a side of sourdough bread with olive oil for dipping is more than sufficient.
Now, I mentioned that this soup is completely raw, and I can already hear some Spaniards scoffing in the background. The traditional base of the soup is bread, garlic, oil, vinegar and salt, but similar to several regional variations, I have taken the bread out of the soup, preferring to serve it on the side. (You may certainly blend some in if you'd like.) Since Spain is also known for its bell peppers, which I absolutely love, I've made liberal use of them here.
And the truth is, there are so many variations on this soup, nearly any cold soup that features cucumbers and garlic is labelled as gazpacho. Since the soup is so versatile, it's a great way to use the surplus of vegetables in your garden. Have lots of zucchini? Toss it in!
So, here's my favorite recipe for gazpacho. I like strong flavors, but feel free to tweak to your own palate as desired. Buen provecho!
- 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 sweet red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic or 2 long garlic scapes, chopped
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- smoked paprika or hot sauce, to taste (optional)
- 2 cups tomato juice, optional
- Pureé all ingredients in a blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary, and blend to your desired consistency. Cover in a non-reactive storage container and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.
- Top with extra diced vegetables if desired.