Tomato Gazpacho with Roasted Pepper, Cucumber and Avocado
You can use any combination of tomatoes in this luscious Spanish soup, making it an excellent way to use up less-than-perfect tomatoes—ones with splits, soft spots or cracks. Just cut out the blemishes before peeling them and throwing them in the blender. Often eaten as a starter, the soup also makes an excellent vegetarian main dish when served with a salad and a wedge of good bread.
- 2 red bell peppers
- 5 lb. (2.5 kg) tomatoes, preferably heirloom tomatoes
- 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
- 1 large avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
Using tongs, hold 1 bell pepper over the flame of a gas burner, turning it as needed, until charred and blistered on all sides. Repeat with the second pepper. Alternatively, preheat the broiler, place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened on all sides. Place the bell peppers in a small bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave until cool. Peel off the blackened skin and remove the stem and seeds. Set aside.
Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Using a small, sharp knife, cut out the stem from each tomato, then cut a small, shallow X on the blossom end. Working in small batches, immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water until the skins blister, about 30 seconds. As they are ready, using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a large colander.
Working over a bowl, peel the tomatoes, discarding the skins. Using your fingers, break the tomatoes open and gently squeeze and scrape the seeds and juices into the bowl. Transfer the flesh to another bowl. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the juices into the bowl with the tomato flesh. Discard the seeds.
Working in batches, in a blender, combine the tomato flesh and juice, 1 roasted bell pepper and the cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Process until smooth, then transfer to a bowl. Seed, stem and finely dice the remaining bell pepper and stir into the tomato mixture. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, then divide among chilled bowls. Garnish with the avocado, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately. Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Garden Cookbook, by Jeanne Kelley (Weldon Owen, 2013)