We’ll never forget our first encounter with real gazpacho in Sevilla. Sitting on the counter behind a tapas bar were glass pitchers filled with a rich, creamy, orange liquid, looking for all the world like jugs of melon smoothies. But when we tasted a glass-as everyone around us was frantically doing -there was nary a fruit in this drink. It was stand-at-the-bar, drinkin’ gazpacho, a pure taste of the Moorish south with no fancy garnishes. Follow this recipe to reproduce that sublime, simple treat-but do go ahead and add the garnishes if you’re serving the soup in bowls at a sit-down dinner.
1/4 pound crustless French or Italian bread (weigh after removing crust), torn into coarse chunks
12 ounces ripe, red tomatoes, cut in coarse chunks
2/3 cup chopped onions
1 large garlic clove
6 ounces cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut in coarse chunks
6 ounces red bell pepper, seeded and cut in coarse chunks
2 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
finely chopped green bell pepper
finely chopped red bell pepper
finely chopped onion
finely chopped cucumber
finely chopped hard-boiled egg
finely chopped olives . croutons
Pour water over bread to cover, then squeeze out the water and place bread in the work bowl of a food processor. (If bread is fresh, squeeze immediately. If bread is stale, wait a few moments.)
Place the rest of the ingredients, except garnishes, in the food processor. Purée until very smooth (2 minutes or more). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for several hours.
Strain through a fine sieve. Just before serving, if desired, thin with a little ice water. Serve either in tall glasses, ungarnished, or divide gazpacho among soup bowls, offering as many of the garnishes as you wish.
With thanks to Dean & DeLuca