Tomato season is just getting going and the heirloom varieties have been superb. My favorites so far have been coming from Balakian Farms. Here’s my recipe for tomato gazpacho. Did you know that in Spain the original gazpacho was essentially a bread soup? That’s right, it was before tomatoes had even been imported from the New World. They used to pound the bread with olive oil, garlic, vinegar and water. The bread is what gives the soup that great body. And for f*cks sake, don’t even bother if you don’t have amazing tomatoes. Serve this soup on a warm day in bowls or mugs and if you are entertaining you can serve it in shot glasses. Try it, it’s super bueno!
2 heaping cups bread, crust removed and cut roughly into one inch pieces
2 cups water
4 pounds very ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons red pepper, diced
4 tablespoons yellow pepper, diced
4 tablespoons red onion, diced
4 tablespoons cucumber, diced
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup water (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
2 tablespoons cherry tomatoes, quartered
Baby basil leaves
In a bowl cover the bread with water and soak until soft, about five minutes. Drain and squeeze the bread dry. Puree the bread with the garlic in a blender until very smooth adding a few tablespoons of water if necessary. Set aside.
Place the chopped tomatoes in a large mixing bowl and season with salt. Add two tablespoons each of the diced red and yellow pepper, red onion, and cucumber. Add the bread puree and mix to combine, seasoning with cumin and salt to taste. If time permits, allow this mixture to rest in the refrigerator well covered over night.
Working in two batches, puree half of the tomato mixture with one-third cup of your best quality olive oil in the blender until the consistency is perfectly smooth. Transfer the gazpacho to a large mixing bowl and repeat. Whisk in the sherry vinegar and Tabasco to taste. Thin with water if desired and let chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Before serving combine the remaining two tablespoons of red and yellow pepper, cucumber, red onion and cherry tomatoes in a mixing bowl and season with salt to taste. Plate a small spoonful of the salad garnish in the center of each bowl. Pour the gazpacho around the salad, top with a few basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Serves six to eight.