When I think of gazpacho, I think tomatoes. But this cold soup from southern Spain defies definition.

In Seville, each cook has her own version. Some varieties are white while others are green or gold. It can be made thick and chunky, more of a salad than a soup, or when whirred in a blender, it’s like a vegetable smoothie to sip from a frosty glass.

These days, gazpacho is also made with melons, avocados, peaches or nectarines, and sometimes sparked with a shot of vodka or gin. It was once the humble lunch for those who worked in the vineyards, olive plantations, citrus groves or cork farms, and remains a reliable, satisfying, cooling meal on these lovely warm days.

The only hard and fast rule of gazpacho is that the ingredients be local and very fresh. Take tomatoes. Right now, they’re super-ripe. The tomato flavor will depend on the variety and when they came in from the field. It’s best to taste them before you begin to get a sense of how to season the soup. Cherry tomatoes tend to be sweet and snappy, while those big beefsteaks are mellow and smooth. Try using a mix of tomatoes. Taste the other ingredients to be sure the peppers are crisp and juicy and that the cucumbers are firm and not bitter.

Cold pressed, extra-virgin olive oil is essential to a “real” gazpacho. Choose one that’s smooth and fruity to give the soup a lush, silky texture. Vinegar adds the snap that pulls the dish together. Sherry vinegar is the traditional choice, but balsamic or a good-quality white or red wine vinegar will also work well.

Bread gives the soup texture and body. Choose a plain white baguette or country loaf, and remove most of the crust. Sourdough can overwhelm the flavor; whole-wheat breads are just too brown.

The texture of the soup is up to you. The original gazpacho was made in a mortar and pestle, the ingredients pounded together in batches. Today a blender does the work.

For a completely smooth soup, let the motor run until all the ingredients are nicely puréed. Or for a thick, chunky medley, hold out half of the vegetables, chop them by hand, and stir them back into the purée.

It doesn’t get much easier than that. These recipes, requiring minimal effort and no heat, are perfect for this time of year. 

Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.

Classic Tomato Gazpacho

Serves about 4 to 6.

Note: We’ve topped this lively gazpacho with local corn and fresh basil for color and flavor, but you might try more traditional garnishes, such as diced hard-cooked eggs, cucumbers and green peppers. Gazpacho should be served chilled, and the colder it is the less salty it will taste, so adjust the seasoning before serving. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 lb. tomatoes, chopped (use a mix of varieties)

• 1 c. tomato juice or water

• 2 garlic cloves

• 2 to 3 slices stale bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed

• 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, or to taste

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 1 small cucumber, chopped

• 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced

• 1/2 c. cooked corn kernels, for garnish, optional

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil, for garnish, optional


Put the tomatoes, tomato juice, garlic, bread, oil and vinegar into a blender. Process until smooth, adding water if it seems too thick. Place in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Stir in the cucumber and pepper. Chill and serve in cold glass mugs or cups and garnish with the corn kernels and basil.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 145 Fat 10 g Sodium 145 mg

Carbohydrates 13 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 6 g

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ carb, 2 fat.


White Gazpacho

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: The base for this robust, satisfying cold soup relies on bread, almonds and plenty of garlic. Cucumbers add the fresh, vibrant flavor, and sherry vinegar makes a snappy finish. If the cucumbers are very fresh and firm, there is no need to peel and seed them. But if they’re bitter tasting and seem dry, it’s best to peel and seed before using. This dish is hearty enough for lunch or a light dinner paired with tomato-topped bruschetta.

• 2 c. cubed bread (most of the crust removed)

• 1 1/2 c. cold water, or more if needed

• 1/2 c. blanched slivered almonds

• 2 garlic cloves

• 3 c. diced cucumbers (see Note)

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 3 tbsp. sherry vinegar

• 1 tsp. honey

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped for garnish, optional

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley, optional


Put the bread in a bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups water to soften. Put the almonds and garlic into a blender and process until ground. Add the soaked bread, cucumbers, olive oil, vinegar and honey, and process until smooth, adding more water if it seems too thick. Place in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and chill. Serve in individual portions garnished with the chopped pepper and parsley.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 190 Fat 15 g Sodium 65 mg

Carbohydrates 12 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ starch, 3 fat.