Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Scaredy Cat Cooks: Gazpacho!

As part of my quest for culinary knowledge, I'm branching out into different cultures.  If I only make what I've always made, I'll never learn anything new, no?  So this week's cultural dish comes from Spain.  We're making Gazpacho!

Gazpacho is a vegetable soup, served cold.  Each region in Spain (and Portugal) has their own take on the chilled soup: some use tomatoes as a base, some incorporate dried fruits, etc.  The result is a richly colored purée and a healthy meal for any time (though it does require an extended prep time.) 

Traditionally a peasant's dish, this soup has ancient roots.  Gazpacho, etymologically, comes from the Greek word Gazophylakion, which referred to the collection box in church where people would donate what they could, including coins and breads.  Knowing this history, we might date this dish back to as early as the ninth century BCE.  With the Moors, we find the original word pronounced through a new accent, changing it from Gazophylakion into the Gazpacho we know (and love) today.

28 oz. can of whole tomatoes (or 6 large tomatoes)
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped & seeded
1 Red Pepper, chopped & seeded
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, & chopped
2 garlic cloves, mashed
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 can black beans

In a blender, purée the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, garlic paste, red-wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Pour the soup into a bowl and stir in the black beans.  Chill the soup for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight).

If the soup is too thick, thin it with ice water or tomato juice.

Spoon soup into your favorite bowl and top with croutons.  Be sure to serve with plenty of bread for dipping!

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