Gazpacho

Gazpacho is the most refreshing of soups on a hot summer day.  It has a delightful crispness and lightness and looks so beautiful.  Flavours are enhanced by making it in advance and I think it iss best served on the cool side of room temperature. I have been known to put ice cubes in the middle just before serving.  Great with home made focaccia studded with rosemary and sprinkled with sea-salt.

If you know you are going to make this, then put a jug of water and a bowl in the fridge the night before. It really helps!

When you are ready, de-seed half a large cucumber, a red pepper and half a green pepper and dice them into small dice. By small I mean about the size of a pea – yes I know a pea is round but you know what I mean! Some people also use chopped fresh onion but because it is so hard to estimate how strong the onion will be I tend to use  a mixture of chives and spring onion tops, so for the onion bit you will need 8-10 spring onion tops (the green bit cut off just before the spring onion gets firm) and a good handful of chives. Chop these finely.  Chop about 6 large sprigs of flat leaf parsley too.

Put 5 large red ripe tomatoes in a jug or bowl and completely cover with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes.  Then immediately transfer into a bowl of very cold water and you should find it easy to peel them.  Peel the tomatoes on a clean board, then cut in half and remove the centre core and all the pips and juice. Then chop the tomatoes too.  You are aiming for all the solid elements of the Gazpacho to be the roughly same size – makes no difference to the flavour, but it looks nice.  Put the tomatoes in a bowl with the other ingredients and season well with salt and black pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Now, take your bowl out of the fridge (best to use the bowl you will be serving the Gazpacho in).  Put two tbsp white wine vinegar in the bottom with one tsp salt and whisk till the salt has dissolved.  Then whisk in three tbsp of olive oil followed, slowly, by the 1litre of water you put in the fridge the night before. Keep whisking!  Add a generous 3 tbsp of breadcrumbs then all the chopped vegetables.  Check the seasoning.  At this stage, you might think it tastes under-salted but be careful as the flavours develop over a few hours.  More seasoning will follow at the end.

Cover the dish and put it in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours before you eat it.

Take out of the fridge half an hour before you serve it, and make a light pesto. Put 1 tsp sea salt, one clove of garlic and a good handful of basil – by which I mean at least 10 stalks with big leaves – in a pestle and mortar and pound it down to a  gorgeous green slurry, then add 3 tbsp olive oil.

To serve, ladle the Gazpacho into a bowl, put a spoonful of pesto in the middle and eat with good bread and good friends.

By the way, don’t waste those tomato bits you left behind.  Chop them up and put them in the freezer and add to another soup on another day.

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