Gazpacho Andaluz -- cold Spanish summer soup
The origins of gazpacho go back to the Arab-Moorish period in Spain, long before tomatoes and peppers were introduced to Europe from the Americas. It appears to have been a cold soup made from cucumbers and onion, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, plus ground almonds and stale bread to give it body. The recipe here retains much of the original, but includes the tomato and pepper that now seem to make gazpacho gazpacho. This recipe serves six generously.
1 medium-small red (preferred) or green sweet bell pepper
2 small pickling cucumbers or 1/2 of a regular cucumber
1 small onion or 3 scallions (green onions)
4-inch piece of celery
1 small clove garlic
3 large slices stale white bread, such as baguette
1 1/2 cups water
1 large (28-ounce) can whole or diced tomatoes in puree (without basil)
1/4 cup ground almonds or almond butter
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or to taste, or a large pinch of cayenne
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup ice cubes
Freshly diced tomato and minced parsley, and olive oil for garnish
Core and remove pith from pepper; cut flesh into coarse pieces. Peel cucumber if skin is tough or waxed, quarter it lengthwise and remove seeds if large. Cut flesh into chunks. Peel onion and cut it into chunks, or remove roots from scallions and cut white and green parts into roughly 1-inch lengths.
Place celery, cut in several pieces, and the garlic, peeled, in the food processor. Pulse on and off to chop. Scraping down inside of processor bowl from time to time. Add onion or scallion, cucumber, and red or green pepper. Pulse to chop finely. Tear bread in small pieces and add it and the water to the processor and run it briefly to puree the bread. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add tomatoes, ground almonds, pepper sauce or cayenne, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil to the processor. Run processor to make a coarse soupy mixture. Add ice and process again. Add this mixture to the bowl with the previous ingredients, and mix well. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice and other seasonings to taste. If mixture is too thick, dilute with water to a creamy consistency. Refrigerate at least 1/2 hour (or up to 3 days).
Before serving, stir well, taste again and adjust salt and lemon juice if necessary. Serve in individual bowls (or wine glasses) garnished with a little diced tomato and parsley, plus a drizzle of olive oil.