Glorious Gazpacho

A summertime soup that satisfies

August Frank/Inland 360
A bowl of gazpacho, made by Madison Winn
We’re on the cusp of summer, and that means it’s going to get hot.

Summer has a funny way of sneaking up on me every year, despite my having lived here for most of my life. I personally am not a hot-weather person. Summertime for me means indulging in cold drinks and shaded outdoor areas, as opposed to stepping out into the sun and burning tomato-red. However, summer also means socializing, farmers markets and incredible produce, to list just a few of my favorite things.

If you are like me, social yet easily overheated, try making this low-effort, refreshing and satisfying meal for your next gathering.

Gazpacho
Ingredients
For the gazpacho:
1 pound ripe tomatoes of choice, such as a vining tomato or Roma tomato
3 bell peppers of any color
1 English or 2 Persian cucumbers
1 clove garlic
½ sweet or any mild onion
Olive oil
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
White or red wine vinegar
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and black pepper

For the croutons:
Olive oil
Crusty bread of choice

For the cheese lace:
Hard cheese of choice (pecorino, Parmesan, Asiago, etc.)

Supplies needed
Food processor, blender or immersion blender
Large bowl
Large colander
Thin spatula
Nonstick skillet
Wire rack (optional)

Instructions
click to enlarge Glorious Gazpacho
August Frank/Inland 360
Winn cuts up a cucumber for the soup
Start by washing all vegetables thoroughly using a vinegar and water bath. Cut all vegetables into approximately 1-inch pieces and place into a bowl, appropriately seeding, coring and trimming. (If a thinner consistency is desired, don’t bother seeding the tomatoes and cucumber. If a thicker consistency is desired, seed them.) Finally, cut the crusts off the white bread and rip into 1-inch pieces.

In batches, add the vegetables into a blender and blend until a pulp forms. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a time, emulsifying the oil into the vegetable puree. In all, the amount of olive oil used is around ½ cup, so use a good-quality oil. The desired effect is a thick, smoothielike consistency.

The last batch of vegetables should include the onion and garlic, so as to not overpower the rest of the gazpacho with the intense flavors. Include the white bread in this step.

Incorporate the batches into each other until a consistent soup forms, blending and adding more bread (the thickening agent) if needed. Add in the vinegar and salt to taste. The result should be a tangy, highly flavorful fresh soup with consistent texture. Keep cold and stir well before serving.

Cut the crusty bread into 1- to 1½-inch cubes. Grate the hard cheese and set aside. (I used Pecorino.)
click to enlarge Glorious Gazpacho
August Frank/Inland 360
Winn grates cheese for a crispy garnish.

To a medium-hot pan, add in olive oil and bread cubes, tossing to distribute the olive oil evenly. Toast the croutons, flipping occasionally, until they are golden brown and they feel crispy. The insides can remain chewy, making for a terrific sponge for the soup. Homemade croutons will harden naturally soon after preparation, so be aware of that when timing the serving.

Bring a nonstick skillet to medium-low heat. It can be the same as the crouton pan, but make sure it is on a lower heat, dry and completely oil-free.

Add a large pinch of cheese directly onto the heated pan, creating a circle about 5 inches across. It will immediately begin to melt into almost nothing. Add cheese to fill any gaps and let sit for 30 seconds.
click to enlarge Glorious Gazpacho
August Frank/Inland 360
Winn uses a spatula to pry up some crispy cheese to top the gazpacho.

After 30 or so seconds, gently attempt to get the spatula beneath the cheese. On a low consistent heat, the cheese should not stick. Flip the cheese and repeat.
When removing the cheese from the heat, air is key. Do not set the cheese directly onto a plate to cool down. Either transfer to a wire rack or keep on the spatula to serve immediately. Air on both sides of the cheese lace will keep it crunchy. I recommend this step last, as it goes so fast and is best fresh.

Garnish the gazpacho with the cheese lace and croutons, extra olive oil and any fresh herbs you may have.

Packed with flavor, fiber and vitamins, this versatile crowd-pleaser will be a mainstay in your summer rotation.

Winn, of Lewiston, is a home cook and tomato warrior. She can be reached at @food_for_winners on Instagram or madisonwinncooks@gmail.com.

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