Summer has arrived in earnest around these parts, as daylight drifts late into the evening and the garden is beginning to have that scorched earth look. Two weeks ago the mercury hovered near 100 degrees, and I’ve been craving salt and spice and cool ever since. My mom’s gazpacho is the rare summer soup that delivers on all three counts.
A traditional gazpacho from Spain would feature ripe tomatoes, soaked bread, and a drizzle of sherry vinegar. I’m about to introduce you to the American bastard child of the traditional dish. Truth be told, I prefer it to the authentic. Pureed gazpachos seem so anemic after this crunch, like eating salsa with a spoon.
In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that half my attraction to my mom’s recipe is the excuse to eat Fritos corn chips. Don’t let that slow you down. Refreshing, crunchy, and cool, it’s about as no-fuss as soup recipes get. No blenders or ovens needed. Just the ingredients you see here, a paring knife, and a fridge or ice chest to keep it chilled.
An added perk? The gazpacho travels well in a screw-top jar for picnics. If you’re expecting a scorcher for the Fourth of July, this recipe is worth adding to your repertoire.
Recipe courtesy of Sue Clary
64-ounce bottle of V8
English cucumber, diced
orange or red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
half a jalapeño pepper, deseeded and minced
sour cream or plain yogurt
cilantro or chives, chopped
Any large bowl or pot will do, but I find a 64-ounce canning jar makes this process a breeze. Dice the veggies you plan to use, and toss them in the jar.
The crucial veggies to include are red or orange bell pepper and cucumber—ideally an English cucumber since the thin skin is nicer to eat, but you can also use a regular cucumber; just peel it partially before dicing (i.e., peel long stripes lengthwise). Add half a jalapeño pepper, deseeded and finely minced, for an extra kick.
You could consider adding snap peas, zucchini, green pepper, or other picks if you want to create a veggie bonanza. Me, I usually stick with the basics.
Heat ½ cup of V8 in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove (a metal 1-cup measuring tin works well for this step on the stovetop). Add a cube of beef bouillon to the hot V8 and stir until dissolved.* Pour the mixture into the jar with the diced veggies. Add about six dashes of Tabasco sauce and two or three dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Top off the jar with the remaining V8, screw on the lid, and give the whole soup a good shake. Refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour.
Serve in bowls topped with crumbled Fritos, a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, and a sprinkle of cilantro or chives. The toppings make this gazpacho so don’t be stingy!
* Vegetarians can skip the beef bouillon, or even substitute it with miso paste; I have not tried this myself, but I suspect it would lend the right umami flavor in lieu of the bouillon.