This version of the ever-adaptable summer classic uses both fire and smoke, each bringing its distinct character to the soup. The gazpacho is chunky. If you prefer yours smooth, simply give all the ingredients a whirl in the food processor.
Many gazpacho recipes call for tomato juice. This one uses only the natural juices of the tomatoes, which makes for a lighter texture and a refreshing flavor. It includes the seeds, but you can strain them out if you prefer.
Make Ahead: Soak 1 cup of hardwood chips in water for an hour before grilling. The gazpacho can be prepared, covered and refrigerated a day in advance. It needs to chill for at least 1 hour.
Servings: 4 cups
- 6 large (about 3 pounds) tomatoes, cored and the bottoms trimmed flat
- 1 cup peeled, seeded and finely diced cucumber
- 1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (1/2 cup)
- 1 small serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil or cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup cold water (optional)
Prepare the grill for direct and indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.
When the fire is ready, set the tomatoes over direct heat for about 3 minutes. When they become a little charred, turn them over and grill for about 3 minutes.
Use a spatula to move the tomatoes to the cooler (indirect) side of the grate. Drain the water from the wood chips and scatter the chips on the charcoal fire. If using a gas grill, place the wood chips into a smoker box or a foil pouch punctured with a few fork holes to release the smoke; set the pouch or box in the grill. Close the grill lid and allow the tomatoes to smoke for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the cucumber, bell pepper, serrano pepper and garlic in a large bowl.
Transfer the grilled, smoked tomatoes to a bowl or platter to capture any released juices. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins. Dice the tomato flesh; add half of it to the bowl with the cucumber-pepper mixture, along with any juices.
Puree the remaining tomatoes with the oil in a food processor for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth. Add the puree to the mixture in the bowl. Add the basil or cilantro and the vinegar, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer a thin gazpacho, add cold water until you reach the desired consistency.
Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Taste and adjust vinegar or seasonings as needed.
From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
Tested by Jeffrey Donald.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.