We’re entering tomato season across the country, and whether you’re planning a summery Spanish feast or simply want to take advantage of peak-season produce, the Andalusian specialty known as gazpacho is a must-make dish.
Spanish-born chef José Andrés has a theory for why the chilled tomato soup is so ideal for summer. “The summers in most of Spain are scorching hot. There is nothing like getting home from school or work, opening your refrigerator, and finding a pitcher of gazpacho! It cannot be easier to make,” he says.
We couldn’t agree more. At its best, gazpacho is light and refreshing yet intensely saturated in flavor at the same time—but make it incorrectly, and you could wind up with a soupy version of salsa. Here are a few of our secrets to making fantastic gazpacho this season.
Don’t Add Water!
Many gazpacho recipes call for adding water, tomato juice or broth. But we don’t suggest adding water to traditional tomato gazpacho, as it will only dilute the tomato flavor.
To Make the Soup Extra Creamy, Use a Powerful Blender
Use high-powered blender like a Vitamix or KitchenAid Pro Line Series Blender to integrate all of the ingredients of your gazpacho in the silkiest way possible. Using a powerful machine helps achieve such a level of creaminess that you’ll swear your soup includes cream!
Don’t Skimp on the Olive Oil
The other secret to an ultra-velvety gazpacho is a very generous amount of olive oil; it adds weight and body to what is otherwise essentially puréed vegetables. For best results, use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (we like to use peppery olive oils to accentuate the flavor).
Make It Ahead (But Not Too Far in Advance)
Making the chilled soup at least an hour before serving allows all of its flavors to meld together. Don’t make it too far in advance than overnight, however, or the soup will start to sour.
One Word: Sherry!
Traditional gazpacho boasts layers of flavor. In our experience, sherry vinegar and a generous splash of sherry (we like Oloroso) adds another component of acidity as well as complexity. Seek out the best sherry vinegar you can find; it’ll pay off in spades.
Choose Your Tomato Wisely
Want to make that gazpacho yours? Put your own spin on any version of the chilled soup by switching up the variety of tomatoes you use. Yellow tomatoes give the soup a sunny touch; green zebras or kumatos would be lovely, too. For a zippier version, try tomatillo gazpacho.
And one final note: gazpacho is an excellent vehicle for using up less-than-perfect tomatoes. Simply cut out splits, soft spots or cracks before throwing them in the blender. As Chef Andrés points out: “You just have to use really ripe tomatoes—maybe even the ones that don’t look so perfect.”
Craving gazpacho now? See all of our recipes here.