Gazpacho



Many many years ago when I was offered a cold tomato soup, I was a bit like! Cold tomato soup..........hmmmhmmm. Ok I didn't say anything and took a spoonful and it was love at first sight, you know what I mean. After that I became a fan of this very humble and delicious soup called Gazpacho. Actually if someone would say, tomato juice, we know what that is but a cold soup was a new idea to me back then but now in the spring and summers it has become a way of life. Its a Spanish specialty but its enjoyed in the whole Mediterranean region and everywhere else. Spring and more, summers are a great time to make this soup. The beauty of this dish is it has to be made in advance so whenever I plan to make it for lunch or dinner I make it about 4-6 hours in advance and you are done with half of your meal preparation, einfach clever! This also makes a great party dish/drink. The flavors come out when its chilled. I usually serve it with bread and a lentil salad.

Here is what you will need:

- 6 juicy medium to big sized red tomatoes

- 1 red bell pepper

- 1 white onion (sweeter the better, red also works)

- 1 English cucumber

- 3-4 cloves of garlic

- 1/4 to 1/8 green chill

- salt to taste

- black pepper to taste

- 3/4 litre water (adjust according to your taste and liking, the thickness of the soup)

- 2 tsp vegetable stock ( I use fat free stock in powder form but chicken stock could be used as well or a cube works too)

- small bunch of fresh cilantro/coriander to garnish or fresh celery sticks

- 1 big pinch of sugar

- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Method:

1. Put the kettle on to boil the water, wash the tomatoes and put them in a big bowl, cover the tomatoes with the hot boiling water and cover them for about 5-7 minutes.

2. Take 500 ml of hot water and add the vegetable stock to it, mix it well and let it cool.

3. In the meantime, prepare all the other ingredients. Take half of the bell pepper and cut them into rough chunks and cut the other half into fine small cubes, do the same with cucumber and onion. Peel the garlic and deseed the green chili.

4. By the time you would have finished with the veggies, its time to tackle the tomatoes. Throw the hot water from the bowl and now add some cold water to the bowl of tomatoes and let them sit for a minute or two.

5. After this time you will see the tomatoes skin getting loose. Now throw the cold water as well and peel the tomatoes like we peel potatoes. Keep putting the peeled tomatoes in this big bowl

6. Add the roughly chopped pepper, onion, cucumber, garlic and green chili, half of the coriander and the prepared stock.

7. With the help of a hand blender blend all of this into a fine liquid, add the spices and the olive oil. Check the salt, as the stock also have got some salt.

8. Now add the finely chopped pepper, cucumber and onion to the soup, garish with the remaining fresh coriander leaves and keep it covered in the fridge to chill.

9. Serve cold with a piece of bread.

10. If you like it hot, I mean spicy hot! Its a cold soup remember! you could also add few drops of Tabasco. This was a bad joke :(

PS: I didnt have coriander this time, but it tastes great. Celery also works great with a crunch!

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