One of the more interesting experiences of my young life was a cooking lesson with my landlady in Madrid. She spoke no English, I spoke little Spanish, and her granddaughter sort of translated. However, her recipes, once I figures them out, are amazing. Here is one of my favorites–old school traditional Madrid Gazpacho. Many households in Madrid keep the concentrated version of this in the fridge, adding water to serve to drop in guests on scorching afternoons. We’re having an epic heatwave in Texas, so this is perfect. Get the freshest, most local ingredients available.
2 slices stale white bread, crusts removed
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS olive oil (Spanish if at all possible!!)
1 tsp coarse salt
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped, with some of the skin removed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
4 to 5 ripe red tomatoes, skinned and seeded
2 TBS sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar will work if you don’t have sherry)
scant 3 cups ice water
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of cumin (This was my landlady’s secret tip)
Soak the bread in water, then squeeze it out. Put it in a blender or food processor with the onion, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Puree.
Add the cucumber to the mixture and puree. Add red bell pepper and puree. Finally, add the tomatoes and vinegar and puree. Chill mixture for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight. (You can put it in the freezer, but I think it doesn’t taste as good this way.)
When you are ready to serve, dilute the mixture with ice water (don’t use ice cubes!!) and season to taste with cayenne pepper and cumin. Arrange a selection of the garnishes listed below for people to add to the basic soup.
4 TBS fried croutons
2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped
4 TBS chopped red, green, or yellow bell pepper
4 TBS chopped onion or green onion
Green or black olives, pitted and chopped (Spanish if possible!!)