If you ever have an excess of zucchini or tomatoes and don’t know what to do with them, don’t panic. There are plenty of options, and a good gazpacho is definitely one of them. It’s a delicious, no-heat-required way to obliterate a ton of produce and you don’t even need a recipe, just a few pantry items, a blender of some sort and a little faith.
Most people think of gazpacho as either a super-smooth, almost creamy, cold tomato soup or a bunch of diced vegetables swimming in V8. Today we’re focusing on the first one because it’s almost impossible to mess up. Besides the vegetables of your choice, all you need to make truly perfect gazpacho is a starch, an acid and some form of fat. When blended together, these three ingredients create a smooth, stable emulsion, which is the difference between a creamy bowl of gazpacho and a foamy, watery, weirdly fibrous vegetable smoothie.
Traditional Andalusian gazpacho uses crusty white bread, aged sherry vinegar, and olive oil, and while you absolutely can’t go wrong with any of those, they’re just suggestions.
Literally any bread-like object will work — leftover hamburger buns, gluten-free sandwich bread, stale biscuits or bagels, old cornbread, English muffins, corn tortillas, Ritz crackers, you name it — as will any acid or fat that complements the flavours of your veg.
As for the vegetable, anything you’d eat raw is the best choice for reasons of pure laziness, but you can also use starchier or more fibrous ingredients if you par-cook them first. (Charred eggplant would be exceptional, for example.) Purée everything except the fat together with a splash of water and plenty of salt until totally smooth, then gradually add the fat to create a nice, smooth emulsion. That’s it.
I was in the mood for a nice green gazpacho, so for this batch, I used about four cups of chopped vegetables: one medium zucchini, a large seedless cucumber, two ribs of celery, loads of green onions, a tiny clove of garlic, and a big handful each of coriander, dill, and mint.
My starch, acid, and fat were roughly a cup of cubed focaccia and a quarter cup each of lemon juice and really good olive oil. The ratio I used — four parts veg, one part bread, and a quarter part each fat and acid — made a pleasantly thick, spoonable purée, but you can adjust the proportions depending on what you have. This is a forgiving technique.
Once I’d managed to convince my stick blender to pulverise a bunch of vegetables and old bread, I poured all the olive oil right on top and gradually incorporated it into the rest of the mixture like I would with a batch of stick blender mayonnaise. After an overnight rest in the fridge to meld the flavours, I’ve got the most deliciously refreshing summer meal I could ask for — and it’s ready whenever I am.
It doesn’t take long to get the formula down, and once you have, don’t be surprised if everything in your fridge starts to look like gazpacho fodder. My next move is a version that uses mostly corn — with homemade cornbread as the starch, obviously — but I’m also thinking about incorporating some fruit: watermelon, cucumber, and mint gazpacho with feta crumbled over top sounds pretty fantastic to me.
Really though, there’s no wrong way to make or eat a refreshing chilled soup.