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In essence, gazpacho is about good olive oil and bread. If you leave any of them out of this recipe, you may as well have a tomato cocktail. The bread and oil will ensure that your soup is silky and creamy.

Gazpacho
Chilled tomato soup

Ingredients


  • 2 medium slices stale ciabatta bread
  • 250 ml cold water
  • ˝ an English cucumber
  • 65 - 80 ml coarsely chopped red onion (or to taste)
  • 1 - 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped (or to taste)
  • 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 - 45 ml red wine vinegar (or to taste)
  • 800 g very ripe tomatoes, skinned and coarsely cut up
  • 1 ripe red pepper, ribbed, seeded and coarsely sliced
  • handful basil leaves, coarsely torn
  • generous pinch red chili flakes (optional)
  • about 750 ml tomato juice (see Chef’s hint)
  • salt and freshly-milled black pepper to taste
  • frozen vodka in shot glasses
  • Cheesy Grissini Bread Sticks (Get recipe here)
  • variety of finely chopped garnishes (see Chef’s hint)



Chef's hint: Never use tomato cocktail, it contains Worcestershire sauce which is about as far from Spanish cuisine as a lorry is from an angel cake. Use plain old tomato juice, packed right next to the tomato cocktails in store! Then go easy with the garnishes if you want a clean taste: olives and cheese and more onion may give you gazpacho a cloudy taste. I prefer serving small bowls of bruinoise made of the ingredients – like chopped tomato, red pepper and cucumber and small basil leaves. Olé enjoy!

Method


Cut or break the ciabatta in rough pieces and place in a bowl. Cover with the cold water and set aside for 20 minutes. Drain, squeeze as much of the water out as possible and place the bread in a processor.

Halve the cucumber lengthwise, scrape its seeds out with a teaspoon and peel. Cut coarsely and place in a processor with the onion (if using), garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Process until smooth then transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Add the tomatoes, red pepper, basil leaves, chili flakes and at least 250 ml of the tomato juice to the processor and process until smooth then add to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well. Now strain the mixture and push the bits through the sieve. Straining is optional, but it does make your gazpacho silky smooth … giving you a massive burst of flavour in your mouth without any annoying bits and pieces to chew.

Right, that done, season to taste and add whatever robust seasonings you love: garlic puree, finely chopped basil, more olive oil or vinegar. Cover and chill for several hours or even overnight.

Serve the gazpacho in pretty, small glasses with a shot of frozen vodka and cheese grissini and garnishes on the side. (The idea is to tip the vodka into the gazpacho, stirring it with your grissini and enjoying the whole experience …!)

Serves 4 - 6, depending on the course.