Gazpacho soup served cold

This, fellow kitchen mechanics, is a gazpacho. It is not simply a soup; it is a new way to combine the freshest vegetables and herbs to produce a memorably delicious meal.

Gazpacho soup served cold
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To make a chilled gazpacho for four, you will need:

  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 800g ripe, flawless tomatoes
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 1 standard carrot
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large red sweet pepper
  • A handful of fresh, nunu-free basil leaves
  • 30ml red wine vinegar
  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt on demand
  • Red Tabasco available for each diner

The big surprise for first-time gazpacho cooks is that everything is raw. The truly big deal is using the freshest, least-blighted vegetables you can get your hands on. For me, that means some careful searching and cleaning. I share the tiny vegetable beds on my urban ranch with many freeloading vegetarians, some with six legs, others with one slimy foot.

Next, the general appearance. Here one word predominates – red, the colour of ripeness and mellow fruitfulness.

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Preparation is quick and standard. Scrape clean or even peel the carrot. Top, tail and deseed the sweet pepper. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Lightly crush or squash the garlic cloves with the flat of a heavy knife. This ruptures the skin, allowing easy peeling by hand. Coarsely chop the carrot and sweet pepper. Select three slices of the red onion.

Now for the mechanical chopping process. Here you have two options: a stand-alone blender-liquidiser or the more thrilling handheld version. The latter is one of those devices that could easily appear as a sidearm or personal weapon in Star Wars. A high-torque motor in the handle drives a shaft fitted with blades. These whirr at hyper- cosmic speeds to macerate any human foodstuff that crosses its path.

Action stations. Select a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Divide the cleaned, rinsed and, where necessary, coarsely chopped ingredients into two roughly equal batches. Pour in the vinegar and olive oil. Place batch one in the bowl and apply the blender. This will reduce the contents to a smooth paste; a couple of minutes should do it.

Repeat with the second and final batch, then mix the two batches of blended vegetables together. Chill the production in the fridge for at least two hours or even overnight. Lightly season with salt, noting that very cold foods distort our salt-taste perception.

Serve this homage to the Garden of Eden in chilled bowls, garnished with fresh, hand-torn basil. Chilli fans may desire to warm things up – meet their singular needs with red Tabasco.

Fresh bread gives extra heft to the meal.