I’d rather have my fill of gazpacho than be subject to the misery of a meddling doctor who me with hunger, and I’d rather lie in summer under the shade of an oak, and in winter wrap myself in a double sheepskin jacket in freedom, than go to bed between holland sheets and dress in sables under the restraint of a government. –Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
In order to break from the sweltering heat of a New York City summer, I decided to look to southern Spain, where they deal with this for much of the year. I’m dedicating the week to making different kinds of gazpacho, one of my favorite cold, refreshing soups. In this rustic, homey, classic gazpacho, I stuck with the usual cast of characters, a combination of red tomatoes, jalapenos, cucumber, red wine vinegar, olive oil, a pepper, cilantro, garlic and onions. As the Cervantes quote above indicates, gazpacho is known as peasant’s food. Nothing fancy here. The seasons simple comforts are my luxury. However, to add a slight opulence to the dish, you can add a teaspoon of lump crab meat, which is light and goes well with the cool broth.
The origins of gazpacho go back to the province of Andalucia, which gets hotter than 100F or 40C even in the earliest of spring. It is hard to pinpoint the exact origin of a dish, but a good guess for this particular soup would be around the city of Granada, which has a history deeply rooted in the amalgamation of cultures such as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Romani. This mix is reflected in the food and also in the history and architecture of the city. In Cordoba they eat a variation on this classic called salmorejo Cordobes, which is an incredible variation, which also uses eggs and jamon serrano as a garnish. I wrote about it last summer here. Any way you make it, it’s cold, refreshing and has been cooling people down, rich and poor, throughout history.
- 2¼ lb diced tomatoes
- ⅓ cup diced yellow bell peppers
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped onion (red or yellow)
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup peeled and diced cucumber
- ¾ cup lump crab
- 1½ tsp fresh lime juice
Place tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, onion, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender container. Puree until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer and reserve liquid. In a medium bowl, combine more cucumber, crab and lime juice and allow to marinate for about 10 minutes. Serve ¾ cup gazpacho with 3 tablespoons crab mixture.