The soup that evolved into Gazpacho originated in medieval Andalusia, Spain’s southernmost province, when it was ruled by Moorish caliphs. The original dish bore hardly any resemblance to the soup we now know as Gazpacho. It consisted of a loaf of bread that had been soaked in water and wrung out, then ground with garlic in a mortar and pestle. Olive oil vinegar and water were then added to complete the soup. No doubt this filled the belly, but it doesn’t sound very palatable to me! I’m not surprised that, after Spain re-conquered Andalusia and Columbus brought new fruits and vegetables from the new world, Spaniards soon replaced the water with tomato juice and started adding other ingredients.
Today there are as many variations on gazpacho as there are people who make it. Some recipes (mostly from Europe) still include bread as an ingredient; but just as many leave it out, as I do in my recipe. Some gazpachos are distinctly Mediterranean, while others have a more Latin American savor, like this one.
When I started making gazpacho years ago, I decided to use mixed vegetable juice instead of tomato juice as the base of the soup, since it echoes the flavors of the other ingredients in my recipe. Since I usually make gazpacho for potlucks or parties, this recipe is large, yielding 10 – 12 servings. If you want to make less, simply reduce the proportions.
- 1 32-oz. container V-8 or Mott’s Garden Cocktail mixed vegetable juice
- 1 small tin peeled diced tomatoes
- 1 cup beef, chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 cups finely diced onion
- 1 cup finely diced celery
- 1 medium-sized red or green bell pepper
- 3 or 4 cloves pressed or minced garlic
- 2 cups seeded unpeeled cucumber, finely diced
- 1½ cups thinly sliced scallions
- 1 tsp celery seed
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground coriander seed (culantro molido)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
- ¼ cup + 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ minced cilantro
- to taste salt
- to taste your favorite hot sauce (chilero) (I use chipotle.)
- Pour the mixed vegetable juice, diced tomatoes and stock into a large soup pot.
- Wash all vegetables (except onions and garlic) in cold water and dry them with a kitchen towel.
- Sauté the onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic with 3 tablespoons of olive oil until the onions are nearly transparent and the peppers and celery are slightly tender (about 5 minutes). Add them to the pot.
- Add the cucumbers, scallions and spices to the pot and stir.
- Place the pot on a stovetop element and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, to bring out the various flavors and blend them. Remove from heat and let stand to reach room temperature. Then refrigerate until cold.
- Add the minced cilantro, lemon juice (or vinegar) and olive oil.
- Season to taste with salt and hot sauce. Alternatively, you could put these seasonings on the table so that each diner can season his or her own serving. (NOTE: It’s important to wait until the soup is cold to add salt and hot sauce, as their intensity is reduced by heat.)
- Serve in chilled soup bowls.
Other serving suggestions: There are some other ingredients some people like to add to their gazpacho, and these can be made available at the table:
- a bowl of sour cream (natilla)
- a bowl of diced avocado
- a bowl of lemon or lime wedges
- a bowl of additional minced cilantro
- a bottle of Worcestershire sauce (salsa inglesa)
If it’s a festive occasion, you might provide each diner with a shot of tequila, vodka or guaro, which may be added to the soup (or not).