The very first time I made Gazpacho soup was when I was visiting my sister who was living in a small village of Vilcabamba, near Loca in Ecuador. The required ingredients were cheap, plentiful, locally produced and so fresh. Ecuador certainly opened up my eyes (and palette) to some amazing local flavours and recipes, some I would not readily repeat (Guinea pig springs to mind). One thing I certainly learned about culture, food, and the attitude to them – one country’s domestic pet is another country’s speciality dish. We live and learn, or at least I do. The other ingredient I will gladly never eat again is the starchy root of the Yucca plant.
As ever, I have gone on a slight tangent. The aim is not to persuade you start swiping the neighbour’s or kid’s Guinea pig in an effort to cook something authentic from South America, but to make a really simple and flavoursome chilled Gazpacho soup. My mistake, and hence the reason to mention Ecuador in the first place (apart from for nostalgic purposes) is that I went a tad overkill in raw chilli department, and created a far more fiery soup than intended. There was a chilli plant growing outside the mountain chalet my sister was renting, and I thought it was a good idea to harvest a couple of them and shove them into the soup to ‘pep’ it up a bit. What I do remember (even though this was 15 years ago) , was I managed to negate the intended cooling sensation of a chilled tomato, cucumber, and red bell pepper soup by adding a chilli inferno to it. It turns out that not all chillis are alike (I had never even heard of the Scoville scale at the time), and was a locally grown Habanero. All I can say is that I certainly learned my lesson, and to this day, I am very careful with my selection of ingredients. Aside from the warm weather, the reason why I chose to make this Gazpacho recipe was because I had quite a few tomatoes in the vegetable drawer which had certainly seen slightly better days. I really couldn’t think of a better recipe to use them all up en masse.
Gazpacho soup with garlic and rosemary ciabatta
- 400-500 grammes ripe tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped.
- 1 x cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
- 1 x large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
- 1 x small red onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 tbsps white or cider vinegar
- 2-3 tbsps olive oil
- 1 x red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
- 1 x clove garlic, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- finely cubed tomato, bell pepper, tomato and sliced spring onion to garnish.
- 2 x ciabatta rolls
- 1 x sprig rosemary
- coarse sea salt
- First, you'll need to peel the tomatoes. Score a cross with a sharp knife at the bottom of each fruit, place in a large bowl, then blanch for 3-4 minutes by pouring boiling water over. The skin will now easy peel off - simply gently pull from each corner. Remove the seeds,roughly chop, then place in a food processor or blender. Add half the grated garlic and red chilli.
- Next, peel, de-seed and chop the cucumber, and add to the tomatoes. Then, peel and finely chop a small red onion, de-seed and chop the red pepper, and blitz the ingredients together for 1-2 minutes. Add the vinegar, 2 x tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and blitz for another 30 seconds or so.
- Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight to allow the flavours to permeate.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C, line an oven tray with tin foil and lightly brush with oil and heat it up at the same time.
- Next, slice the ciabatta rolls into thin slices, and add the remaining grated garlic, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle rosemary and coarse sea salt, then bake in the over for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, evenly distribute the soup into bowls, and garnish with finely chopped pepper, tomato, spring onion and cucumber.