Suzi's Blog

Bread & Water + Tomatoes = Gazpacho

bowl of gazpacho

“Do you hit your wife during the night?” the man asked me.

I hesitated to answer. The question was stark. And, I have always maintained that what happens between me and Suzen in the privacy of our bedroom is, well private.

“No, Doctor, he does not,” Suzen answered.

“Good,” the doctor responded. “That means you do not have Restless Leg Syndrome.”

Apparently, I am “restless” when asleep, and Suzen had joined me at my sleep doctor to trace down the source. I wake Suzen up in the middle of the night, never a good thing to do. But all I do is thrash. I do not bash my wife.

The doctor, who was simply doing his job, proposed a solution and we prepared to leave.

“Are you still trying to lose weight?” the doctor asked.

“Oh, yes,” I said as I bent to grab my bag.

“You are lying,” the doctor said to me.

I jerked up and looked at him. He pointed to Suzen, standing in the hallway with a very righteous look on her face.

“Your wife told me the truth,” the doctor said reproachfully.

Ratted out by my wife. Was I depressed at her faithlessness? No, I was damn angry. She thinks I’m restless in bed? Wait until tonight, baby. Your ass will be on the floor by midnight. That’s what rushed through my head.

No, wait. They are right. I need to drop a few. Okay, several. But it’s not my fault. Someone has to test brownies and my metabolism is way, way too efficient. I can’t burn enough calories.

So, I’m exercising like mad. And going on a restricted diet. Not bread and water. But close. Thank God for gazpacho. Wonderful, classic gazpacho.

Lydie Marshall has written a perfectly diverse collection of soup ideas in Soup of the Day. She presents two contrasting gazpacho recipes, and this one represents the very pure and simple style: tomatoes, garlic, and bread that has been soaked in water. This recipe, Melchior’s Gazpacho, is named for its creator, a Barcelona native. What we have here is authenticity.

I’m a fan of gazpacho and sample new recipes all the time. The variety of gazpacho flavors, styles, and textures is just a delight. I particularly love the distinct pale orange color that is achieved when white bread is combined with red tomatoes.

This gazpacho is not the chunky type you may have tasted. It’s immaculately thin, because the only veggie being used is the tomatoes and a food processor is used to liquefy the wet bread and the whole thing is sieved. You are left with this delightfully delicate liquid that can be adorned with toppings to extend flavor and give body.

Lydie suggests diced onions, bell peppers, cucumber and hard-boiled eggs for toppings. Plus, of course, croutons. [See yesterday’s blog for perfect homemade croutons!]. I added some options in the list of ingredients below.

I used the croutons, and the cucumber, but I added in sliced hot green peppers and some ripe avocado.

The brightness of all the additive flavors always makes gazpacho a surprising treat. The fact that gazpacho is healthy, too, is a bonus you can relish. You can retire to bed at night with no sense of guilt. You are free, of course, to thrash a bit in celebration. Just don’t hit the person next to you.

Melchior’s Gazpacho

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

The Soup Itself:

  • 4 pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cups loosely packed bread, from the doughy part of the bread, not the crust
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and pureed
  • 4 tablespoons, red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt or more
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Options for Topping the Soup:

  • Diced tomato
  • Slice or diced onion
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced scallions
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Sliced hot peppers
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Dice hard-boiled eggs
  • Croutons, freshly made

Preparation:

Dice and reserve 1 tomato for garnish.

Soak the remaining tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain, peel, and chop.

Soak the bread in water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water and mix the bread with the tomatoes.

Puree the tomatoes, bread and garlic in a food processor until very smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the tomato seeds [and any tomato pulp].

Whisk in the 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, then drizzle the olive oil in the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and stir the gazpacho. Refrigerate.

Just before serving, prepare the croutons.

To serve, taste the soup and correct the seasoning. If the soup is too thick, add ice cubes to thin it out. Pour the soup into chilled soup bowl or plates.

Serve the adornments in side bowls and allow each guest to add as they wish.

Source: Soup of the Day by Lydie Marshall

Orange, Tomato and Chive Salsa

I don’t work at Barnes and Noble but I do shop there. When you first enter the store, there is often a rack of “special” books that you may overlook. They always have modest prices. They always have a distinct size or cover. You might pass right by, but if you see The Complete Mexican by Jane Milton, Jenni Fleetwood, and Marina Filippelli, grab a copy. It’s filled with recipes that simply don’t “look” like the ones you are used to. You’ll gain a very new perspective on Mexican fare.

For example, salsa. Salsa? Most of the time we make our salsa with some — but not necessarily all — of a core set of ingredients: tomatoes, chilies, onion, cilantro.

Here’s a twist. Keep the tomato, but ditch the other stuff. Use oranges and chives instead! Yes, it sounds almost bizarrely different. But, it’s delicious. I had this as a side dish with a Mexican trout — blog to come! — and it was brightly flavorful.

One note here. You dice up the tomato and oranges. There’s a lot of fluid running around. This dish is best made just before the meal. And, no, it really does not last overnight in the fridge. In that sense, it seems to be a very authentic “make it now and eat it now” dish.

Orange, Tomato and Chive Salsa

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 2 large, sweet oranges
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, or 2 plum tomatoes
  • Bunch of fresh chives [mine were right of the garden!]
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

Preparation:

Slice the base off each orange so they will stand firmly on a chopping board. Using a large sharp knife, remove the peel by slicing from the top to the bottom of each orange.

Working over a bowl, segment each orange in turn. Slice toward the middle of the fruit, and slightly tone side of a segment, and then gently twist the knife to release the orange segment. Squeeze any juice form the remaining membrane.

Roughly chop the orange segments and them to the bowl of collected orange juice. Halve the tomato, and scoop the meat into the bowl. Dice the remaining flesh of each tomato half and add to the bowl.

Hold the bunch of chives over the bowl, and use scissors to snip them in short pieces over the bowl.

Thinly slice the garlic and stir into the mixture. Pour in the olive oil, then season with salt. Stir, taste, and adjust to meet your needs.

Source: The Complete Mexican by Jane Milton, Jenni Fleetwood, and Marina Filippelli