I’ve never made gazpacho. I’m not even 100% convinced I really like it. But it’s a soup, and I love soup. And it’s socially more acceptable to eat in the summer compared to a rich cream of whatever vegetable blend. So it was settled. This year I would make gazpacho. But it couldn’t be a bland, ordinary version. I needed something different, something vibrant that would push me over the wall into “I love gazpacho” territory. For my husband’s birthday we dined at Traif for the first time. After what seemed like hours to choose our selection of tapas-style small plates, we were greeted by a sake glass filled with icy strawberry gazpacho. It barely touched my lips and I knew. I was making this soup.
Tomatoes are just starting to pop up at the greenmarkets. I spied some beautiful zebra heirlooms just the other day at Union Square. Early picks generally translate to expensive picks. However, I went a bit overboard last season, and managed to turn 75lbs of tomatoes into dozens of chopped, whole and sauced jars. It’s nearly summer and I still have several jars left. So instead of splurging on the overpriced first picks of the season, I went with my canned inventory.
Being my first ever gazpacho, I can’t confirm whether using the canned tomatoes changed the final results. I was more confident because they were home canned–I would never consider using store canned tomatoes. While the preserved tomatoes might have effected the bright red color, luckily I had plenty ofto make up for that. A blend of half tomatoes, half strawberries balanced the soup well, allowing both flavors to gently fade in and out of every bite. Some pepper, cucumber and red onion rounded out the soup and some extra acid and heat brought it to the next level. I failed in chilling the soup for just 4 hours before serving. While quite tasty, it was undeniably better the next afternoon, after having chilled for a full day.
For those gazpacho lovers out there, what do you think? Having nothing to compare it to, other than the few versions I’ve sampled, I was pretty satisfied with the results. But I always appreciate tricks to make a great dish even better.
Strawberry Gazpacho (Serves 6-8)
- 4 c chopped fresh or canned tomatoes, with juices
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
- 1 c diced red onion
- 4 c chopped strawberries (about a quart)
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp hot sauce or Tabasco
- Generous pinch of salt
- Handful of basil leaves for garnish (optional)
Puree tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, jalapeno, red onion and strawberries in a food processor, working in batches if necessary. Pour puree into a large nonreactive metal bowl and stir in red wine vinegar, hot sauce and salt. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with basil and serve chilled.