Classic Gazpacho

What could be more summery a dish than gazpacho, that cold Spanish soup that requires firing up nothing more than a blender?

Over the years, this warm-weather staple has taken many forms and seasonings – white gazpacho, for instance, which has grapes and almonds in it, and a less familiar lettuce-based green one – but my version is classic, and, as an added attraction, low-calorie. I don’t add bread because I don’t like the slightly soggy texture it imparts or the fact that it mutes the flavour. If you really want some carbs, use croutons as a garnish. Chili peppers are sometimes incorporated, although I prefer to drizzle a peppery olive oil over the soup as a garnish rather than add the peppers to the base.

With so few ingredients, it’s important to focus on quality. This is especially true for tomatoes. If no seasonal ones are available, it’s worth splurging on hot-house-grown heirlooms.

As for the sherry vinegar, it comes in different strengths, tastes and price brackets, much like balsamic. True sherry vinegar is made from a mixture of Spanish sherries, barrel-aged often for years. It should be rich and mellow. Buy a Spanish one for the authentic taste.

A note on preparation: Gazpacho is not a smoothie; it should have texture, so don’t over-blend.

Ready time: 20 minutes, not including chilling time
Servings: 4

Soup:

4 cups chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped, seeded red pepper, ribs removed

1 cup chopped, peeled English cucumber

1 cup chopped red onion

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish:

½ avocado, sliced

4 radishes, finely diced

1 cup radish sprouts

4 teaspoons peppery olive oil

Combine tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Stir in olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until cold.

Divide soup between four bowls. Garnish with avocado slices, radishes and radish sprouts. Drizzle each bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of pepper.