WE’VE had a few rare hot summer days recently but when the weather is warm the last thing I want is a hot and heavy meal. I always crave fresh, vibrant food at this time of year and Gazpacho is one of my favourites when I’m looking for something nourishing but light to eat.
Cold soup doesn’t always appeal to everyone and it’s not what we’re used to in the UK – we generally associate a steaming bowl of soup with cold weather. But this classic Spanish dish really is a taste sensation and is wonderfully refreshing so I’d urge you to give it a try.
Full of ripe and fragrant summery flavours, Gazpacho has been described as a ‘salad soup’ and although the classic ingredients in the recipe should remain the same, you can add other seasonal produce to it too if desired.
The main thing to remember though is to use ripe ingredients to ensure the very best flavour; it’s worth seeking out some really great tomatoes and peppers for this especially. The traditional Spanish recipe also advises using a really good olive oil.
Because Gazpacho uses raw ingredients it’s incredibly healthy and packs a hearty nutritional punch as well as being low in fat. It’s also a really quick meal to prepare and can be made in advance and chilled for an hour or so if necessary.
This dish is great for picnics because no cooking or heating up is involved, or serve it as an appetiser at a BBQ or summer dinner party.
I like to top mine with a slice of toasted ciabatta or something similar because, after all, we Brits do like to have a bit of bread with our soup!
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and diced
1 red pepper and 1 green pepper, de-seeded and diced
1kg ripe plum tomatoes, cored and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
75g slightly stale crusty white bread, finely chopped
50ml Olive oil plus extra to serve
Salt & pepper
Handful of ice cubes
Basil leaves to serve (optional)
Add the cucumber, peppers and tomatoes to a bowl with garlic. Add the spring onions but leave a few aside to garnish the finished dish. Add the bread, ice cubes, olive oil and a twist of salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
Check the seasoning and add a little more if necessary. For a really silky consistency, pass the soup through a sieve then chill in the refrigerator if making in advance or dish up immediately while still cold.
To serve, sprinkle the remaining spring onions on top along with a few basil leaves and a twist of black pepper. Finally, drizzle over a little olive oil and top with a slice of toasted bread.