In Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 black comedy ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown‘, the plot revolves around Pepa and her fraught relationship with Ivan and his extended family. Pepa’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown! Swallowing sleeping pills hand over fist as she tries to work out how to deal with Ivan, she decides to make a big batch of Gazpacho, spiked with sleeping pills. As you can imagine, hilarious results ensue. When asked about the recipe for the soup, Pepa recites every single ingredient in her husky, 4 pack a day voice. The first time I heard her recite the recipe to her guests, I thought ‘Wow, Antonio Banderas is almost unrecognisable.’ Then I thought ‘There’s a lot more to Gazpacho than just tomatoes’.
24 years later, with Pepa’s throaty voice rattling around in my head, the perfect opportunity to make Gazpacho presented itself. The Gastronauts Picnic on a hot, steamy Brisbane afternoon. I’d recently received a blender as a farewell gift from colleagues and was keen to expand my repertoire beyond Mango Lassis and Watermelon Daiquiris. I was fairly sure that no one else was going to turn up with a cold soup so it took the performance pressure off. It was also fuss free and quick to prepare as there was no cooking involved. Tangy and refreshing, I made some Pide to go with it and we ate it picnic style out of plastic cups. Of course there was one show off who brought a palate cleanser of individual Gin Punch Jellies to the picnic – you know who you are…..
- 600 – 700g best quality tomatoes cored & quartered (Romas are always good)
- 3 slices day old bread, crusts removed
- 120ml tomato juice or water
- 1 medium red capsicum, de-seeded & roughly chopped
- 1 medium green capsicum, de-seeded & roughly chopped
- 60g red onion, roughly chopped
- 150g cucumber, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
- Soak bread in tomato juice or water for 5 minutes until it softens.
- Place bread, tomatoes, capsicum, onion, garlic and olive oil in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add vinegar, salt & pepper then blend again.
- Chill for at least 1 hour but up to 24 hours to allow flavours to mingle
- Serve scattered with finely chopped parsley and or cucumber as well as a drizzle of olive oil. Sleeping pills optional
– I skinned the tomatoes by briefly plunging in boiling water although this is optional
– Use the best olive oil you can afford as there is no cooking so you want the flavours to be at their best
– If you’re not a fan of cold soups, you should still give this a go. If it’s not for you, try it gently warmed with a swirl of natural yoghurt. Nice huh?