11.02.2010

Spanish flavour


As a celebration of the one beautiful day of summer we’ve had so far I wanted to make something special for dinner. Given the heat, the dish had to be light and fresh, but still full of flavour. That’s when I remembered a recipe for an Andalusian gazpacho (take from Skye Gyngell’s recipe found here). I substituted the more special ingredients (marcona almonds and aged sherry vinegar) with natural almonds and red wine vinegar.
I often use bread to thicken the gazpacho (try something crusty like a ciabiatta and then soak it in water to make it soft and spongy). But this time I happened to see fresh green almonds being sold at the grocer and thought it would be great to use them as a garnish for my soup. Using nuts in cooking is often a great idea. Nuts are a healthy way to thicken up sauces and soups - for example, a lot of vegetarian Indian dishes use cashews, peanuts and almonds to create creaminess and add protein.
The soup was crunchy, sweet and tangy. Just perfect with a glass of white wine and some fresh crusty bread. The perfect – and first – summer evening.


spanish gazpacho soup
Serves 6 (or 4 with leftovers)

2 kg (4lbs) Tomatoes – vine ripened are the best –
1 red chili, deseeded
1 red onion
2 red peppers, deseeded
1 large english cucumber, deseeded
1 clove garlic (if you’re afraid of raw garlic you can blanch it first)
1 bunch fresh basil
1 handful of lightly toasted almonds (I used natural but you can use marcona if you can find them)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar           
1 cup of tomato juice (you might not use all of it, use to thin the soup out)
good pinch of sea salt and black pepper
            
This recipe is simple to make since everything gets blitzed together in a food processor. First chop everything (ensure deseeded) into a relatively small rough chop. Add in tomatoes, red chili and onion, pulse a few times and so on with the rest of the items, making sure to pulse/mix after adding few ingredients. Add tomato juice last – and use enough until you reach the right consistency and taste. Make sure it’s well seasoned since you will serve it cold. Blend well but note you can leave it a little rough as it adds great texture.  Refrigerate well (3-4 hrs) and serve chilled. The soup is best served the day of making but will keep for a few days in the fridge. Enjoy.

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