When the weather in St. Louis gets unbearably warm and nothing will cool me down, I turn to gazpacho. It’s healthier than my usual go-to, ice cream, and almost as delicious.
Gazpacho is one of those things that should be disgusting but it’s not. It’s essentially a vegetable smoothie in a bowl. Still, it has its allure.
That’s because if gazpacho is done right, it’s more complicated than blended tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It’s a mélange of flavors, textures, and consistencies. In this gazpacho, there’s sweetness from the sungold tomatoes and red bell pepper, spice from the jalapeño, crunch from the cucumbers, a little bite from the red onion, flaky sea salt, and a splash of sourness from the red wine vinegar.
Another key to making gazpacho that doesn’t taste like a smoothie is using really, really good olive oil. It doesn’t need to be the $30 kind but it shouldn’t be the $7 kind, either (unless you found a good sale). The flavor of the olive oil sings through in the final product, so you want to make sure that it’s singing on-key.
The gazpacho is delicious by itself but extra delicious with the addition of these croutons. I was going to use white bread but I was all out, so I cut up a few slices of Hawaiian bread in my fridge leftover from the Fourth of July. I tossed the bread cubes with olive oil and lots of flaky sea salt and let them bake in the oven for a few minutes. It was hard not to eat them all one by one after they came out of the oven.
ANYWAY. Make this gazpacho as soon as possible. It’s great for using up extra ingredients that you buy at the farmers’ market. It’s also perfect for a summer night when you don’t want to cook.
Here’s a song that reminds me of this gazpacho. There’s a lot going on, but somehow, it all comes together in the end. It also reminds me of “The Wizard of Oz” in a creepy, jungle way.
Sungold Gazpacho with Homemade Croutons
for the gazpacho:
1 pint of sungold tomatoes
5 small pickling cucumbers, peeled
1 large red bell pepper, seeds, stem, and ribbing removed
1 small red onion
1/2 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
flaky sea salt
for the croutons:
3 slices of Hawaiian bread (or white…whatever you have will work), sliced into cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
flaky sea salt
Cut four of the cucumbers, 1/2 the red onion, jalapeño, and 3/4 of the bell pepper into 1-inch pieces. Place the pieces in an upright blender or food processor with the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sea salt. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the vegetable purée over the strainer and use a spatula to strain it through. Discard the solids.
Finely dice the remaining cucumber, red pepper, and red onion, and stir it into the bowl. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings, adding more vinegar or salt, or even a teaspoon or two of water if you want a thinner consistency. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes before serving.
In the meantime, make the croutons. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the bread cubes on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Toss until all the cubes are evenly coated. Make sure they’re spaced out on the baking sheet and then place it in the oven. Bake the croutons for about seven minutes or until they’re golden brown. Keep an eye on them: They bake quickly.
Serve the gazpacho cold with a swirl of good olive oil and some croutons. Enjoy!