It shouldn’t be cause for surprise that both Ilana and I are very big fans of Spanish food: We both have a cultural connection to the country, albeit from very different perspectives. Spanish cuisine is one of the cornerstones of our own culinary traditions, and many dishes are common or similar.
My visits to Spain proved just how much I love its food, and it’s in my list of countries where I intend to spend more time at some point in the future.
Gazpacho, however, has no equivalent in our cuisine, and never was amongst my favorite dishes. That was until a few years ago when I came across a version of a mild and easy gazpacho that made me a convert. I have long forgotten where I tried it, but I still have great memories of it. Let me share it with you.
Gazpacho, as you may know it, it’s a cold tomato-based soup. Cold, as in served at room temperature, or slightly chilled.
I am not sure why it hasn’t become more popular amongst Dominicans, after all a cold soup is a great idea for a light lunch in the blistering heat of our summers. And summer here lasts longer than elsewhere, or so I am led to believe.
We need to come up with more summer dishes like this.
My problem with most gazpachos is that, because of the raw onion and garlic, the taste can be overwhelming; and it leaves you with dragon breath long after you’ve eaten it. I also dislike the blended version, this is a soup that should work better with something to chew on. Luckily I am not violating some secret rule of gazpacho-making; there actually is a traditional version that just requires the ingredients to be pureed with a mortar, which is the way it was made before electric appliances even existed.
The trick to the “mild” part of this soup is that the ingredients are briefly cooked over low heat, just enough to get rid of the most pungent flavors, allowing you to appear in public shortly thereafter without exposing everyone you talk to deadly fumes.
And while this requireS a bit of cooking, it takes nearly the same time as the uncooked version, and can be served in just a matter of minutes.
I sure will be making a lot more of these in the days to come.
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 large red onions , minced finely
- 6 garlic cloves , crushed
- 6 cups of bread crumbs from a day-old baguette
- 9 large tomatoes , peeled, seeded and chopped
- 4 small cucumbers , peeled, seeded and minced finely.
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 3 cups of chilled white wine
- 6 cups of crushed ice
- 1 tablespoon of table salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly-cracked pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup of red bell , chopped into very small cubes
- 1/2 cup of cucumber , chopped into very small cubes
- 1/4 cup of onion , chopped into very small cubes
In a 2 qt [2 lt] pot heat the oil over low heat.
Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn translucent.
Add the bread crumbs and increase heat to medium-low, stirring until all the bread is coated with oil.
Add tomato and cucumber and crush over the heat with a potato masher until it turns into a coarse paste.
Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl.
Add vinegar, wine and ice. Stir until ice has dissolved. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve slightly chilled and garnish with the diced vegetables.
The crushed ice makes cooling down the soup much faster, while the bread still maintain some of its texture.