The Aigua Blava Cookbook #4: Gazpacho

Image of a Valencian building

Sarah and the Valencian apartment where she worked as an au pair

Sarah, my sister-in-law, once worked as an au pair for a wealthy family in Valencia in Spain. She had her hands full looking after a gaggle of children, the eldest of whom sounded like a proper little madam, and found herself awkwardly placed between Upstairs and Downstairs. Being Sarah, she befriended the maids, or they befriended her. Either way, the upside was that they taught her how to cook a range of Spanish dishes and we have been the beneficiaries ever since.

I’m not normally a huge fan of chilled soups but I make an honourable exception for gazpacho. It is of course a summer dish but I wouldn’t make it in the winter anyway. It needs the sweetest, tastiest tomatoes you can lay your hands on. Imported winter ones won’t do.

Image of central market, Valencia

Central Market, Valencia

If you can get home-grown cucumbers too, so much the better. They really do taste different. Apart from that you only need some juicy green peppers, good bread and olive oil. some sweet onion and a dash of red wine vinegar and you’re good to go.

One note of caution: if you’re not eating the soup on the day you make it, omit the onion and add it an hour before serving, or it will overpower the soup and can taste a bit rank. The amounts of oil, vinegar and water depend on your preferred texture and the sweetness of the tomatoes. Add in judicious quantities and keep tasting. Slightly stale bread is best.

Sarah's Gazpacho

Image of table set with gazpacho and trimmings

Ingredients for the soup:

One double handful of each of the following:

Ripe sweet tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and diced

Cucumber, peeled, de-seeded if necessary, diced

Green pepper, de-seeded and diced

Onion, either red or sweet Spanish, peeled and diced

Good quality white bread, without crusts, diced (I only had brown)

1-2 tbsp fruity olive oil, to taste

1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar, to taste

Iced water or tomato juice, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Image of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers

To garnish:

Any or all of the following, finely diced:

Tomatoes, cucumber, red and green pepper, mild chillies, hard boiled egg, croutons fried in olive oil, parsley


Image of gazpacho ingredients, chopped

Liquidise the main ingredients, adding them one at a time. With the liquidiser still running, trickle in the olive oil, until blended. Season with salt and pepper and add the vinegar cautiously, to taste.

Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (or add ice cubes) and taste again. Adjust the seasoning and thin with iced water or tomato juice to the desired consistency.

Serve with bowls of your chosen garnishes for people to add their own at the table. Beautifully fresh and most of your five a day in one bowl.

Image of a bowl of gazpacho with garnishes

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