Chill Out with Gazpacho

Follow the breadcrumb trail to these great spring soups.

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Green gazpacho from El Alma's in Austin, Texas

Serrano peppers, cucumbers and cilantro make this gazpacho lean and green. 

Photo by: Image courtesy of El Alma Restaurante and Bar

Image courtesy of El Alma Restaurante and Bar

Serrano peppers, cucumbers and cilantro make this gazpacho lean and green. 

"Most people don't realize that gazpacho is not made from tomatoes; it's a bread soup," says Alma Alcocer, executive chef of El Alma Restaurante and Bar in Austin, Texas. "In all my gazpachos, the vegetables are pureed, then thickened with bread." 

It's true: traditional gazpachos are based in bread, which seems contradictory considering their light, bright nature and refreshing taste. One of Alcocer's kitchen tricks is soaking breadcrumbs in a covered bowl before blending them with her ingredients. The other is to make the presentation pop. 

"Instead of serving gazpacho as a meal or starter dish, try serving it as a shooter during a cocktail party," she says. "It's a fun twist on a typical dish, plus you can make it in advance."

Mix and match her red and green recipes for your next spring soiree: 

Green Tomato Gazpacho with Crab

Serves 8-10

  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 5 peeled shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1.5 lbs green tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon saffron
  • 1 lemon; juice and zest
  • 2 serrano peppers; diced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large cucumber, ½ chopped and ½ small diced
  • 1 teaspoon mint; chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro; chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups water

For the crab: 

  • ½ pound crab meat
  • Cleansed juice of ½ lemon 
  • Lemon zest 
  • 2 tablesoons crème fraiche

In a medium stock pot, warm 4 tablespoons olive oil and sauté shallots, garlic, ½ of the bell peppers and ½ of the tomatoes.

Deglaze with wine, lemon juice and sugar, bring to a boil and add saffron.

Cook for 5 minutes and add 2 cups of water and ½ cup of breadcrumbs. Then cook an additional 8 minutes or until the bell peppers are soft. 

Cool and place in blender. Blend while adding the rest of the bell peppers, tomatoes, chopped cucumber and the rest of the olive oil.

Season and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add herbs, diced cucumbers and garnish with crab mix and crème fraiche.

Red Tomato Gazpacho

Serves 10

  • 1/2-cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 cups green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Soak breadcrumbs in a covered bowl of water for 10- 12 minutes. After soaking, drain excess water. 

In a blender or food processor, combine breadcrumbs, tomato juice, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, tarragon, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. 

Blend until well combined but still slightly chunky. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

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