Labor Day is the ideal day to make this tomato-ful summer classic. Farm stands and backyard gardens are bursting with red, ripe tomatoes and for this soup, the riper the better including those “over-ripes” on the farm stand’s “discount” shelf.
There are easier ways to make gazpacho if you are in a hurry. Same list of ingredients, but skip the peeling of the tomatoes. Cut vegetables into “food processor friendly sizes” and pulse — one vegetable at a time — to make a coarse to fine chop. Then combine all the ingredients. I’m not in so much of a rush. My preference is a “handmade” gazpacho in which I chop all of the vegetables by hand. I have more control of the sizes of the vegetables and I’m pretty particular about my vegetable sizes.
My Handmade Gazpacho for a Crowd
The optional jalapeno is quite mild and if you really would like a kick to your gazpacho, double the jalapeno or add some hot sauce to taste. This recipe will yield about 4 quarts of a thick gazpacho — plenty for 10-12 guests. Feel free to halve the recipe. Since I plan to use cilantro in my upcoming couscous and corn salad, I opted to use basil — though cilantro is my prefernce with this soup.
Do ahead Gazpacho is actually best made a day or two ahead as the flavors blend. You could make it up to four days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator.
3 1/2 pounds excellent ripe tomatoes, small dice
Preferably peeled and seeded – see yesterday’s blog
3 medium sweet peppers, ideally green and at least one other color, small cubes
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes (see below)
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 medium jalapeno, stem, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced*
1 bunch scallions–green and all, finely diced
4 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
6 cups tomato juice
3/4 cup good quality red wine or sherry vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons chopped basil or cilantro, optional
4 cups small bread cubes–use a good quality country-style bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Once all of the vegetable are chopped, combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Taste for vinegar. The gazpacho should have a definite edge of vinegar without tasting sour.
Yields 4 quarts Serves 8-10
A quick lesson in cutting small cubes with photo below:
1. Cut whatever vegetable you are using into long, uniform stripes. If it’s peppers and you are really compulsive you can trim the ends and cube them separately, but that level of compulsiveness is not recommended.
2. Line up the strips and cut across into small cubes.
If the cubes seem too large, you can dice them–not as perfectly cubed, but perfectly fine.
1. Allow bread cubes to dry out at least overnight. The drying prevents bread from absorbing too much oil.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place dried cubes in bowl. Pour oil down and around edge of bowl and toss croutons to distribute oil. Transfer oiled cubes to rimmed baking sheet. Bake on middle shelf of oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden. Allow to cool. Add 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt and toss.
Gazpacho with optional croutons and a few torn leaves for garnish.
Pass croutons on the side in a bowl with a soup spoon for your guests to add to their soup.
Here’s the rest of your do ahead Labor Day recipes:
Thursday –Couscous & Corn Salad
Friday – Green & Yellow Bean Salad
Saturday – Grilled Eggplant & Assorted Sweet & Hot Peppers
Sunday – A Lemonade Alternative: Lime Rickey
This week’s blog is filled with great recipes to share with friends and family. It’s a good time to suggest they subscribe to the blog to save you the trouble of constantly emailing recipes. In the spirit of Labor Day — less labor for you!
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