Karen Barnaby: Now is the perfect time to make gazpacho

Karen Barnaby offers up three of her favourite gazpacho recipes

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After my first gazpacho experience I avoided it for years.


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A cup was enthusiastically served to me of something that was not quite a purée, and not quite chunky but a somewhere-in-between mixture that felt very awkward in my mouth. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to chew it or swallow it. The tomatoes in it were not ripe and it was just plain bad.

My interest was resuscitated after watching Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Gazpacho played a supporting and important role in the movie and showed the heroine putting the ingredients in a blender and puréeing them until smooth. She also adds an awful lot of barbiturates to the finished gazpacho, but that’s not part of a food story.

The gazpacho she made — minus the drugs — was tucked away in my memory for the future. I retrieved that memory in Mexico, fuelled by the glorious mountains of fresh produce.


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Using a base of puréed tomatoes, salt and water, I added finely diced cucumbers, onion and chunks of spectacular Mexican avocados. Sometimes I would pour it over chopped lettuce and eat it as a soupy salad with hot tortillas. I loved it and always had a pitcher of it in the fridge.

Gazpacho’s roots lie in a simple dish made with bread, garlic, olive oil and vinegar; items that every household had available. Tomatoes, a new world ingredient, were added later.

If you’ve never made gazpacho, it’s a perfect time to make it with all fresh and local ingredients that are available now.


Classic Gazpacho

2 lbs (1 kg) ripe tomatoes, trimmed and cubed

1/2 lb (250 g) English cucumber peeled, seeded, and chunked, about half cucumber


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1/4 lb (125 g) onion, peeled and chunked, about 1 small

1/3 pound (about 1 medium) green or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into chunks

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) salt

4 tbsp (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp (45 mL) vinegar, preferably sherry or red wine

4 oz (120 g) crustless rustic bread cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes, about 2 cups (500 mL)

Diced cucumber, tomatoes and onion for garnishing if desired

extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, pepper, garlic, and salt in a large bowl and toss well. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture with the juices, olive oil, vinegar, and bread to a blender, in batches if necessary, and blend on high until smooth. Pass through a fine meshed sieve into a storage container. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to 2 days.


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Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and vinegar. Serve in chilled cups or bowls, adding the garnish as desired, drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling with pepper.

Makes approximately 8 cups (2 L)

My Mexican Gazpacho

There are no peppers in this because I’m not a fan of them and I think the soup tastes perfect without them.

1 1/2 lbs (750 g) ripe tomatoes, about 5 medium, trimmed

1/3 of a medium English cucumber

1 cup (250 mL) cold water

3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt

pinch of cayenne if desired

2 tsp (10 mL) vinegar, preferably sherry or red wine

4 tbsp (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp (45 mL) finely diced onion

2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed

Coarsely chop 2 of the tomatoes and place in a blender. Cut the remaining tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds and interior flesh. Add the seeds and flesh to the blender. Cut the segment of cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon and add the seeds to the blender. Add the water, salt, cayenne, vinegar and 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil. Purée until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Dice the remaining seeded tomato and cucumber into 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) cubes, add to the bowl along with the onion and stir well. Chill until very cold, at least 2 hours. The water will have separated from the tomato; stir well to incorporate it back into the soup. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and vinegar if needed. Serve in bowls, drizzled with the remaining olive oil and topped with the avocado.


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Makes 4 servings

White Gazpacho (Ajoblanco)

The richness of this simple soup is offset by the grape garnish. The combination may sound odd, but it works deliciously.

If you make this and half a recipe of the Classic Gazpacho, you can pour them simultaneously into the same bowl for a swirly yin-yang effect. They are delicious together.

1 cup (250 mL) skinned almonds

3 cups (750 mL) cold water

1 clove garlic, smashed

1/2 pound (225 g) crustless rustic bread cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes (about 3 cups)

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

1 tbsp (15 mL) vinegar, preferably sherry or red wine

4 tbsp (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup (80 mL) green seedless grapes

2 tbsp (30 mL) toasted almonds, coarsely chopped or crushed

1 tbsp (15 mL) thinly sliced fresh mint leaves


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Combine the almonds with the water and garlic in a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Add the bread, salt, vinegar and 4 tbsp (60 mL) olive oil and blend until smooth. Check the texture and pass through a fine meshed sieve if needed. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, toss the grapes with the almonds, mint, and enough olive oil to coat and season with salt. Stir the soup well. Check the consistency and thin with cold water, if needed and adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar. Pour into chilled bowls and garnish with the grape mixture. Drizzle with a little olive oil over each serving and serve immediately.

Makes approximately 4 cups (1 L)



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Source: vancouversun.com