Gazpacho

Winter 2007 CSANews Issue 65  |  Posted date : May 22, 2008.Back to list

The holiday season has passed, and it's time to get back into shape – more veggies, fewer carbohydrates and less fat. If you're hangin' south of the border, then gazpacho is a refreshing peasant soup that you can enjoy, all the while staying committed to dropping a few pounds.

Originally from Andalusia in Spain, this chilled soup uses fresh, ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. The soup is thinned with ice water and is usually served with diced fresh vegetables or hard-boiled eggs. Many recipes include croutons.

This name 'gazpacho' has been North Americanized to now include a whole variety of vegetables and ingredients. It has come to refer to "cold soup" in general.

The secret to creating a tasty gazpacho is in choosing local, ripe vegetables, fresh herbs and high-quality ingredients.

Tomato is often the primary base ingredient. Use a variety in the heirloom family, as this tomato has outstanding flavour. How about a corn-and-tomato gazpacho with jalapeño and avocado? Use grilled corn from the cob rather than the canned version to give your gazpacho lots of smoky depth of flavour. Grill the corn in its husks right on the grill for seven to eight minutes, turning occasionally, until the husks are black and the kernels inside are beginning to turn golden brown.

If your recipe calls for cucumber, choose the English variety. It has far more flavour than the waxed one.  Fresh herbs are always the best choice over dried ones. The whole idea is to keep this chilled soup tasting as refreshing as possible.

Ingredients can range from simple to extravagant, from fresh, local and seasonable produce to high-quality seafood such as lobster, or artisan cheeses.

If your gazpacho calls for cheese, choose ones without stabilizers. Read the label. Stabilizers keep the cheese from ripening and therefore, provide a longer shelf life. However, stabilizers also keep the cheese from developing depth of flavour. A brie with stabilizers always remains rubbery and bland, rather than runny and earthy. A few ounces of raw-milk brie, extra-old cheddar or shaved Reggiono Parmesan can kick your gazpacho "up a notch," as Emeril Lagasse might say.

When pairing gazpacho with wine, it's important to consider serving temperatures and primary taste sensations.

White wines are meant to be chilled in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving. They harmonize with the chilled temperature of gazpacho, providing a wonderful palate sensation on a hot day. Dry rosés and semi-sweet rosés are meant to be chilled as well, as are light fruity red wines, such as Pinot Noir or Gamay. Pinot Noir and Gamay should spend about half an hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Even heavier reds should have a slight coolness. There is an old saying that red wine is to be served at room temperature. This is a European term which originated when "room temperature" did not include North American electric heat. So room temperature is actually cellar temperature. A slight cool to a big, red wine will enhance its taste sensations. But be careful. If you chill your red for too long, the cold will mute its aromas in the nose and flavours on the palate. Late-harvest wines and icewines can spend at least two hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Icewine with gazpacho? Absolutely! A cold melon and icewine soup served with an ounce of icewine on a hot day is simply hedonistic.

A fresh tomato-based gazpacho is tangy tasting and therefore, works best with crisp, dry white wines. Crisp, dry whites have tanginess to match. Examples include a brut sparkling wine or champagne, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.

Yet, if you roast the tomatoes or use roasted peppers as the base ingredient, the acidity is reduced and the fruitiness of these ingredients comes through. Roasted tomato or roasted red pepper gazpacho tastes great alongside a red wine with forward fruitiness, such as shiraz or Merlot.

If you add lots of fresh herbs to the gazpacho, such as rosemary or oregano, and then add heavier ingredients such as crumbled blue cheese, an austere red wine would be a best partner. Roasted tomato soup with fresh oregano, crumbled blue cheese and garlic croutons calls for a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.

Here are a few gazpacho recipes to get you into the groove:

COLD MELON AND ICEWINE SOUP

Serves Four to Six    
3 cups     750 mL    chopped cantaloupe
¼ cup        50 mL        Canadian icewine  
3 cups     750 mL    chopped honeydew melon
Pinch sea salt
Fat-free sour cream (for garnish)
4-6        4-6         mint sprigs

In a food processor or blender, place cantaloupe, icewine and melon. Puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.  Serve chilled with a dollop of sour cream and sprig of mint.

BUILDING BLOCKS: The predominant building block is sweetness from the fresh melons and icewine. A chilled ounce of icewine as an accompaniment is ideal. The wine is sweeter than this soup, making it a perfect match.

FLAVOURS: Choose an icewine with tropical flavours to harmonize with the fresh fruit in this gazpacho.

HOT AND SPICY TOMATO GAZPACHO WITH CILANTRO AND JALAPENO

Serves Four to Six
3 1/2 cups     875 mL    (or more) salt-reduced tomato juice
8         8        heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch (5 mm) pieces
1         1        English hothouse cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch (5 mm) pieces
1         1        red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (5 mm) pieces
1        1        medium red onion, chopped
1/4 cup     50 mL        finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup     50 mL        finely chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp.    50 mL        freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp.    7 mL        minced, seeded jalapeño chilli
2         2        cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, add 1 cup (250 mL) of tomato juice, half of the tomatoes, half of the cucumber and half of the bell pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Stir in remaining chopped tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper. Add onion, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, jalapeño and garlic. Add remaining tomato juice. Thin with additional tomato juice, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

BUILDING BLOCKS: The predominant building blocks (taste sensations) of this soup are tanginess from the fresh tomatoes and heat and spice from the jalapeño chili. An off-dry white wine, such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer, has enough tanginess to match. This wine also has some sweetness to effectively offset the heat and spice, thereby satisfying the palate between delicious slurps of the gazpacho.

FLAVOURS: Choose a Riesling or Gewurztraminer with citrus tones to harmonize with the hint of lemon and fruitiness of tomatoes in this soup.

GAZPACHO WITH CHICKEN CROUTONS, CHICKEN SAUSAGE AND BLUE CHEESE

Serves Four to Six
2         2        garlic cloves, minced
6         6        heirloom tomatoes, seeded, finely chopped
1         1        green bell pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1         1        English cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely chopped
2 cups         500 mL        cold water
1/4 cup     50 mL        rice vinegar
¼ cup        50 mL        olive oil
2 tbsp.    25 mL        finely chopped fresh cilantro
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 1/2 cups     875 mL    cubed multigrain bread (3/4-inch/2 cm)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 oz        125 g        cooked chicken sausage, cubed (3/4-inch/2 cm)  
2 oz        60 g        crumbled blue cheese

In a bowl, combine garlic, tomato, pepper and cucumber. Add water, vinegar and 2 tbsp. (25 mL) of olive oil. Fold in cilantro. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Cover soup and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. In a skillet over medium heat, heat remaining olive oil. Add cubes of bread and fry until golden. Set aside. Season croutons with salt and pepper. Cool. Serve soup, garnished with croutons, sausage and crumbled blue cheese.

BUILDING BLOCKS: The predominant building block is tanginess from the tomatoes and saltiness from the blue cheese. A light, fruity red wine such as Pinot Noir has enough tanginess to match the tomatoes and offset the saltiness.

FLAVOURS: Choose a Pinot Noir with earthy tones to highlight the flavour of the sausage.