It took me a long time to become a fan of gazpacho. I always thought the problem was the frankly terrifying strength of raw garlic, but then I realised that was only partly the case. The real issue was that I’d had too many dishes of gazpacho made by people who hadn’t used good garlic. Do you sniff your garlic before you cook with it? Well, do you? Some of it – much of it – smells insistently rancid, like whatever it is they sometimes use to add garlic flavour to processed food. If you get a rancid bulb you just have to chuck it out. It won’t add anything good to your cooking. Good ones on the other hand, judiciously used, can make gazpacho taste exactly as it should: like an impossibly fresh, liquidised, cold salad with a sting of onion, a rich tomato base and the vibrancy of green peppers. My usual advice is that soup and wine don’t really work together – one liquid and another is a recipe for washing machine stomach – but gazpacho is an exception because of one wine only: sherry. Fino or manzanilla – the two lightest styles of sherry – are your best bets here. Anyone who has ever added a slug of sherry to a bloody Mary will understand why. The bread-like warmth of the sherry acts as an amplifier to the richness of the tomato and its salty tang seasons the crisp edges of the vegetables.
4 GOOD MATCHES:
Pedro’s Almacenista Selection Fino NV Spain, 15% (£10.99, or £9.34 each when you buy 2, 29 April – 1 Sep, Majestic).
This sherry looks as if it’s just stepped out of a tapas bar. Punchy with a scent of sourdough bread.
Tio Pepe NV Spain, 15% (£10.99, widely available).
Big brands can be good – and here’s an example. I must confess to a slight addiction to its clean, easygoing taste.
Waitrose Manzanilla Sherry NV Spain,15% (£6.99, Waitrose).
The very finest and lightest of sherry styles, made up the coast from Jerez, this reminds me of cashew nuts and salt.
Bodegas Hidalgo Pasada Pastrana Manzanilla NV Spain, 15% (£12.99, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose).
Wonderful, guaranteed to get the sherry nuts going, has deep, savoury flavours with a hint of smoke.
cucumber 11⁄2, peeled and roughly chopped
tomatoes 500g, blanched, peeled, stalk removed and roughly chopped
green pepper 1, stalk removed, seeded and roughly chopped
onion 1 small, peeled and roughly chopped
garlic 1 clove, peeled and roughly chopped
tomato juice 100ml
olive oil 2 tbsp
white wine vinegar 2 tbsp
cucumber 1⁄2 left over from the soup, peeled and neatly diced
green pepper 1 small, seeded and diced
tomatoes 2, blanched, peeled and neatly diced
flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Put the first five ingredients in a food processor and whizz until liquidised. Sieve into a bowl, discarding the pulp left in the sieve. Stir in the tomato juice, add the oil and vinegar (keep tasting, adding more if you like) and season to taste. Serve the soup chilled, scattered with croutons and alongside small bowls of the chopped vegetables.
PER SERVING 100 KCALS | PROTEIN 2.5G | CARBS 8.4G | FAT 6.1G | SAT FAT 1G | FIBRE 4G | SALT 0.2G
This feature was published in July 2014
Photographs: Adrian Lawrence
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