Enjoy Beet and Tomato Gazpacho – a feast for your eyes and your palate. August is the time to make tomato-based gazpacho. Gardens and farmers markets are resplendent with this juicy, ripe, flavorful fruit. While there is no “ONE” gazpacho, I have simply had too many that tasted more like a Bloody Mary than a true gazpacho. And this delightful cold soup should never be eaten out of season. Isn’t part of the joy in these foods that they are only available for a limited time?
Every summer my mother would make a delicious gazpacho. And I also enjoy some of the less traditional gazpachos without a tomato base, like this green gazpacho. One year our family took a trip to Spain and I recall with fondness the gazpacho that we ate in a former bull-fighting ring. It was garnished with prawns and the texture of the soup was velvety smooth and so refreshing on a very hot day. Every region in Spain has their version. You might wish to try this Andalusian Gazpacho.
The recipe is from the wonderful Martha Rose Shulman. She was inspired by the Spanish Michelin-starred chef, Dani Garcia. The color alone of this gazpacho makes it worth making. The beets that I roasted stained everything this glorious color!
Where some gazpachos that I have had can be very spicy or sharp, this one is not. But don’t mistake smooth for dull or boring. Far from it! No single ingredient overpowers or catches in the back of your throat. But each element blends and compliments the other perfectly. For maximum flavor, make this Beet and Tomato Gazpacho the day before and allow it to thoroughly chill, adjusting the salt before serving. Chilled dishes tend to require more salt than you might otherwise use. There may be a bit of separation after the gazpacho sits in the fridge. Just give it a good stir and you are good to go.
This is not a difficult soup to make, but it does need a good blender to achieve the correct texture. The good news is that you do not have to peel the tomatoes – something that I hate doing. And while you probably could make this with prepared beets that are available at your grocery store, this is the time to roast your own beets. Roasting is very easy and if the beet greens and stems are in good shape, you can use them to make selka, a delightful and healthy Moroccan salad.
Serve this as a first course for dinner or as a light lunch with a crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.
Yield: About 6 servings
Two 1/4-inch thick slices red or white onion
1 large roasted beet
1 Persian cucumber or half of a seedless English cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
2 pounds of ripe tomatoes (about 6 medium), cored and cut into chunks
2 stalks of celery or fennel, coarsely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, halved and the green germ removed from the center (This removes any bitterness)
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 Tablespoons EVOO
Salt to taste (Start with 1.5 teaspoons)
1/2 to 1 cup of ice water, as needed for texture and consistency
1/2 cup diced cucumber
Slivers or ribbons of fresh mint leaves
Place the onions in a bowl and cover with cold tap water. Add a few drops of vinegar (Distilled or cider is fine – don’t waste the more expensive sherry vinegar here. By doin this, you are just softening any harshness that the onion may have.) Allow this to sit while you prep everything else. Then drain and rinse and cut into about 4 pieces.
Place all of the vegetables in a large bowl and mix to distribute them throughout. Working in two or three batches, blend all of the ingredients except for the garnishes in a blender until smooth. Add the water as needed to achieve the consistency and texture you want. It should be a silky puree. Then put all of the soup in a container and chill for at least 4 hours. However, it is better if allowed to chill overnight. Garnish and serve.