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Summer Soup for “Love Apple” Season: Gazpacho


It’s hot in Sevilla in the summer. So hot that you’ll cross the street just to walk (slowly) on a sidewalk shaded by buildings and clench a water bottle in a sweaty fist at all times. Hot enough that the streets are watered to control the dust and tamp down the odors that exude from the pores of an old city clogged with layers of grime from ages of everyday human activity.  And summer is when the mid-afternoon siesta becomes essential for survival, rather than an irritating waste of time when the stores are shuttered and dark.

Imagine yourself inside a walled courtyard. Just behind the door is a narrow city street, but here you sit in the shade beside a gurgling fountain, amid flowers hanging from the walls in glazed pots. Relief. Perhaps your lunch includes a bowl of cold gazpacho.

Gazpacho is one of those dishes that gets a lot of playtime during this sweltering season. It uses ingredients at their prime this time of year – tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers – and requires absolutely no cooking, little prep, and lets a blender do all the work.

You can even pretend to hop on the raw food bandwagon with this recipe, should you wish. Super healthy, and it goes down easier than a salad.

Let’s talk tomatoes. The star of this dish, it’s important to use good ones. If you aren’t growing them in your backyard (I’m certainly not, I live in a fog bank June through August), head to the farmer’s market and pick up some of the heirloom variety. Meaty, flavorful and aromatic, they are what make this soup taste really good.

Tomatoes are the main ingredient of legendary dishes from countries like Spain and Italy. The ironic thing is that this flavorful fruit likely originated in prehistoric South America and didn’t arrive to Europe until the 1500s. And then it took another couple hundred years to convince Americans that tomatoes were ok to eat, despite their relation to the “deadly nightshade.”

Back then, those crazy, romantic French dubbed the ruby red sphere pomme d’amour or “love apple” – which is what it first was called in the U.S. and why it’s so easy to fall for this dish.

Gazpacho de Andalucia
Adapted from Cooking in Spain, Janet Mendel
- serves 6 -


2 slices bread (I use French or Italian bread – cut a chunk roughly the size of 2 slices of sandwich bread)
3-4 large, ripe tomatoes (heirloom, if you can get ‘em)
1 green bell pepper
½ cucumber, peeled if waxed
1 c roughly chopped white onion, rinsed
1 large clove garlic
1/8 c good extra-virgin olive oil
¾ t salt
2 t sherry vinegar

Suggested toppings:
Minced green pepper
Minced white onion
Chopped cucumber
Chopped tomato
Chopped hard-boiled egg
Bits of bacon or jamon serrano, cooked


Put the bread in a bowl and add water to cover. Leave to soak. Roughly chop the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion and mince the garlic. Rinse the chopped onion under cold water. Put tomatoes into the blender first, then follow with the rest (you may have to do in two batches). Give the blender a whir until all is pureed. Strain into a bowl, using a spoon to stir and press the liquid through the sieve. You should be left with just a few tablespoons of vegetable pulp.

Squeeze the water from the bread and add to the blender, along with the olive oil, salt, vinegar and a few tablespoons of the tomato puree (enough so that you can get the blender to engage). Blend until the bread mixture is smooth. Ladle in a bit more tomato puree and blend so that you get a “pourable” consistency. Add bread mixture to the bowl of tomato puree and stir. If it looks/tastes too thick for your preference, add a little water. Taste to correct seasoning.

Chill in the fridge at least 1 hour.

To serve: Pick a few (or all!) of the toppings listed above and either sprinkle on top of bowls of gazpacho before serving, or pass around the table with the soup for people to add themselves.

    One Comment

    1. S bonz says:

      I’ve never tried gazpacho like this. I think mine was Americanized…..I’ll give this a shot because it has been way too hot out here in the East to even contemplate putting on the stove or even the grill outside. I will definitely try the egg for a topping.

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