"A cooling bowl of gaspacho can come as a relief in the middle of a hot Lisbon summer day. The Spanish version of this chilled soup is often made with onion, which usually doesn't feature in the Portuguese recipe. Some older recipes include a slice of slightly stale bread, soaked in water, added along with the vegetables before blitzing, which gives the soup a hearty, creamy texture. Gaspacho is sometimes served with diced or sautéed ham scattered over the top. London's favourite Portuguese chef, Nuno Mendes, has a clever idea, and suggests serving gaspacho not as a soup, but unblended and as a relish to go with grilled fish. The quickest way to peel tomatoes is to draw a cross with a sharp knife across the top of each one, then submerge them for 30 seconds–1 minute in boiling water, which makes it easy to slip off the skins." ~ Rebecca Seal.
6 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 garlic clove, crushed
Generous pinch of salt, plus more if necessary
4 Tbs good-quality extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
1 Tbs white wine vinegar, plus more if necessary
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cucumber, seeds scooped out
1 green (bell) pepper, halved, and ribs and seeds removed
1 tsp freshly squeezed
2 large slices of day-old, good-quality bread, crusts removed, diced
Place the tomatoes, crushed garlic, salt, 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, oregano, cucumber, green pepper and lemon juice into a blender or food processor, and blitz to make a smooth soup. Transfer to a jug or bowl and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that remains after chilling.
About 10 minutes before serving, add a handful of ice cubes to chill the soup right down – it should be served very cold. (Fish the ice cubes out if they haven’t melted before you place the dish on the table.)
While the soup is chilling, make the croutons. Place a wide frying pan over a low heat and add the remaining oil, then toast the diced bread in the pan, tossing and turning it often, until light brown and crisp.
Before serving, taste the soup and add a little more salt or vinegar, if you like.
Pour into wide soup bowls, top with a handful of the croutons in the centre of each one, and finish with a little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and some black pepper.
Credits: Recipes and images from Lisbon by Rebecca Seal, with photography by Steven Joyce, published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $45
Photo Credits: Recipes and images from Lisbon by Rebecca Seal, with photography by Steven Joyce, published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $45