Nicolasa's Gazpacho
Iain Bagwell
Yields75 ServingsCook Time7 hrsChill Time4 hrsTotal Time11 hrs
AuthorNicolasa Chávez

How do you serve a huge crowd well, but without massive costs? A great soup and plenty of sides can be the answer, especially if there’s the added richness of culture and history. Gazpacho, the classic chilled Spanish soup of puréed raw vegetables, totally qualifies for a backyard summer party. Because it’s essential to get help with the prep and set up (and more fun than cooking oceans of soup alone), we’ve written the recipe below as script for cooking with a few friends.

Nicolasa Chávez, who gave us the recipe, knows more about gazpacho than most people. As curator of Latino, Hispano, and Spanish Colonial Collections at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, she organized an entire exhibit on the history of New World cuisine. “Gazpacho is simple, nutritious, and all-around delicious. If you add protein, you have a meal.”

An excellent home cook whose ancestors settled in Sante Fe in 1603, Chavez has tinkered with the typical gazpacho recipe, sautéeing the garlic and onions to mellow them—and using red bell pepper rather than green because she prefers its flavor. She also strains the soup in the classic Spanish way, to make it smooth and silky.

Wine pairing: A full-bodied, slightly fruity tempranillo, such as Campo Viejo (from $10)

Equipment:

  • 3 very large bowls
  • A few bench scrapers for lifting chopped vegetables into bowls
  • Storage containers for chilling soup (ideally large and flat, for easy stacking)
  • 6 to 9 pitchers or half-gallon wide-mouth mason jars, each with ladles
  • 3 trays or shallow beverage tubs filled with crushed ice, for keeping soup cold

How to Make It

1

The afternoon before, call over 4 pals for a prep party! Ask each to bring a large pot and large bowl, and maybe an extra blender. For each batch (5 total): Chop 3 onions and 6 garlic cloves. Cook in 6 tbsp. oil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring often, until translucent, about 7 minutes.

2

As a group, prep tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

3

Take turns at the blender(s): Purée each batch of cooked onions and garlic with one- fifth of tomatoes and 5 to 6 tbsp. tomato paste, if using*, until very smooth, about 2 minutes per batch. Pour each into a large bowl.

4

Finish the soup: For each batch, blend one-fifth of peppers, one-fifth of cucumbers, 3⁄4 cup oil, 31/2 to 4 tbsp. vinegar, 11/2 tsp. white pepper, and 1 tbsp. fine sea salt until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk into bowl of tomato purée. Strain, then season with more pepper, salt, or vinegar. Chill until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

5

Divide and conquer: Cook eggs and shrimp (at right); slice onions; chill.

6

Four hours before serving, make toasts (no earlier or they’ll get stale): Preheat a grill to 350°. Grill bread slices in batches until lightly charred, 3-5 minutes, and transfer to platters or baking sheets in a single layer. (Alternatively, broil in oven 2 to 3 minutes to toast.) Let toasts cool a little, then rub with garlic cloves. Set aside, uncovered at room temperature, until serving. Shortly before serving, drizzle with olive oil.

7

Two hours before, plate ham slices; peel, chop, and re-chill eggs.

8

One hour before, bring those friends back to help you serve. Fill large mason jars with soup. Set up 3 stations with soup (nestle into ice-filled trays), toppings, accompaniments, and serving ware.

*If your tomatoes aren’t perfectly ripe, add 6 tbsp. good-quality tomato paste to each batch of soup to boost the flavor.

Ingredients

Soup
 15 white or red onions
 30 large garlic cloves
 5 cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
 34 lbs vine-ripe tomatoes*, stemmed and chopped
 15 red or green bell peppers, seeded, cored, and chopped
 15 regular cucumbers, peeled and chopped
 1 cup sherry vinegar
 2 tbsp white pepper
 5 tbsp fine sea salt
Garlic Toasts
 7 loaves ciabatta, sliced
 30 garlic cloves, peeled
 Extra-virgin olive oil
 Kosher salt
Serve With
 Chopped hard-cooked eggs
 Peel-and-Eat Shrimp (guests peel their own)
 Thinly sliced green onions
 Sliced serrano ham
 Garlic Toasts (above)
 Bottles of good olive oil
 Fine sea salt or flake salt
 Full-bodied, slightly fruity Tempranillo

Directions

1

The afternoon before, call over 4 pals for a prep party! Ask each to bring a large pot and large bowl, and maybe an extra blender. For each batch (5 total): Chop 3 onions and 6 garlic cloves. Cook in 6 tbsp. oil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring often, until translucent, about 7 minutes.

2

As a group, prep tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

3

Take turns at the blender(s): Purée each batch of cooked onions and garlic with one- fifth of tomatoes and 5 to 6 tbsp. tomato paste, if using*, until very smooth, about 2 minutes per batch. Pour each into a large bowl.

4

Finish the soup: For each batch, blend one-fifth of peppers, one-fifth of cucumbers, 3⁄4 cup oil, 31/2 to 4 tbsp. vinegar, 11/2 tsp. white pepper, and 1 tbsp. fine sea salt until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk into bowl of tomato purée. Strain, then season with more pepper, salt, or vinegar. Chill until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

5

Divide and conquer: Cook eggs and shrimp (at right); slice onions; chill.

6

Four hours before serving, make toasts (no earlier or they’ll get stale): Preheat a grill to 350°. Grill bread slices in batches until lightly charred, 3-5 minutes, and transfer to platters or baking sheets in a single layer. (Alternatively, broil in oven 2 to 3 minutes to toast.) Let toasts cool a little, then rub with garlic cloves. Set aside, uncovered at room temperature, until serving. Shortly before serving, drizzle with olive oil.

7

Two hours before, plate ham slices; peel, chop, and re-chill eggs.

8

One hour before, bring those friends back to help you serve. Fill large mason jars with soup. Set up 3 stations with soup (nestle into ice-filled trays), toppings, accompaniments, and serving ware.

*If your tomatoes aren’t perfectly ripe, add 6 tbsp. good-quality tomato paste to each batch of soup to boost the flavor.

Nicolasa’s Gazpacho