Fresh from the Garden! Gazpacho Soup Recipe

Of all the seasons, summer may be one of the easiest in which to eat local foods. A trip to the farmers’ market is all it takes to find fresh, locally grown produce and, in some cases, meats and cheese. In fact, some people have taken the “farm to table” concept a step further: U.S. News and World Report named vegetable gardening as one of today’s top consumer trends.  

A perfect example of my own family’s farm to table experience is growing the ingredients for our own gazpacho soup. You can, too, with these easy steps:

Gather the ingredients

Finding good quality vegetable plants is just like finding good quality vegetables. The best source isn’t what you find at the supermarket or big box stores with gardening sections, but from the farmers themselves. While bypassing pesticides is one main advantage, another is that you can get heirloom varieties that have not been bred, crossbred and cross-crossbred just to produce some uniform trait and homogenized flavor. That’s how to get a tomato that has not been turned into a widget.

Few vegetables are easier to grow than the three that make up the heart and soul of gazpacho soup – tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers.

Plant Your Gazpacho

These vegetables grow wonderfully in porch pots or an outdoor bed. They all require the same basic conditions in which to flourish: Plenty of sun along with well-drained, moist earth. When you’re ready to plant, first turn some organic compost (found in any garden section) and mulch (such as wood chips or bark) into the soil. Then set the plants about two feet apart. You can also grow fresh herbs, such as basil and rosemary, for seasoning your soup.

Grow Your Gazpacho

Tomatoes need to be tied to a stake or set inside a wire cage to keep the heavy fruit from pulling its limbs to the ground. Cucumbers are vines and will run either along the ground or up a trellis (if you need to conserve space). Peppers are small bushes and can stand-alone. But all of these succulent plants love their sun and water. Make sure the soil stays moist by giving them a drink each day. Harvest your fruit as it ripens and set on the kitchen counter. It’s really that simple.

Prepare Your Gazpacho

This amazing soup is as easy to throw together as it is delicious to eat. Here’s my family's recipe:

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled
  • 2-3 slices of stale bread
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 ½ cups organic stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste

First score the skins of the tomatoes and put them in a pot of boiling water for about 15 seconds. Pull them out and slide the skins off. Cut the tomatoes into quarters to remove the seeds, then coarsely chop.

Chop the bell pepper and peeled cucumber. Soak two to three slices of stale bread in water for a couple of minutes, then squeeze out the excess water.

Next, put the bread and chopped vegetables into a food processor along with the minced garlic, basil, rosemary, red wine vinegar and lime juice. If you like gazpacho with more body, leave out a handful of the veggies, mince them and add back to the soup at the end. Otherwise, puree the entire mixture until smooth. Leave the machine running and slowly add 2 cups of tomato juice along with1½ cups of organic stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef) and ½ cup of olive oil. If you like a brothier soup, thin it by adding more stock.

Add salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce as desired, then refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. The flavors will marry and improve over time, so taste for the salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce after a while to see if it needs more. As a finishing touch, garnish the gazpacho with a drizzle of your best olive oil or low-fat sour cream to your taste.

Serve Your Gazpacho

At the end of a hot summer day, you’ll welcome the crisp coolness of this refreshing meal, especially if you’re eating outside.

To make your gazpacho a complete meal, begin with a few slices of ripened melon rolled in slices of prosciutto, a few olives and a crisp white wine or seltzer mixed with fruit juice.

After you’ve savored your soup, finish with a few slices of well-aged cheddar cheese and dried cherries. And be sure to take a moment to recognize your accomplishment: Putting nutritious food on your table, with your own hands.

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