I recently got back from a trip to Barcelona that I took with my 19-year-old daughter. Food was obviously high on our list and we went to some great informal places for tapas. At one of these bars we were served a chilled beet gazpacho, which was a treat after a day of strolling through the hot streets of the city. Last week, when temperatures were also rising in the Netherlands, I decided to make this beautiful purple beet gazpacho myself. I used my favorite recipe for gazpacho and added some roasted beets. A tasty variation!
We served it with a slice of sourdough bread made by my husband, who is an enthusiastic bread baker: every weekend he bakes us several beautiful crusty breads.
Starter, serves 4-6
Action time: 25 minutes + 40-60 minutes oven time and cooling
3 raw red beets (medium size)
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
a thick slice of quality bread, crust removed
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, stalks and seed removed, in pieces
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 14-oz (400 g) can of tomatoes with juice
300 ml cold vegetable broth or water
3 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of cayenne pepper
For the garnish:
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
a piece of cucumber, seeds removed and diced
several red radishes, shaved or thinly sliced
some flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped (optional)
Extra: aluminum foil, blender
1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Wash the beets and rub them with a little olive oil. Put the beets in a baking dish and sprinkle with some salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake the beets, depending on the size, for 40-60 minutes. They are done if they can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven, uncover and let cool. Peel and dice the beets. Put one third of the beets in a bowl and mix with 1 tbsp vinegar and some salt. Set aside for the garnish.
2. Put the bread in a shallow dish and cover with cold water. Squeeze the bread lightly and put it together with the rest of the beets, garlic, onion, pepper, cucumber, tomatoes and broth or ice cold water in a blender, and purée everything (if your blender is not big enough, purée the ingredients in two batches).
3. Add the rest of the vinegar, oil, cayenne, and some salt and let the machine run for one more minute. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Chill the gazpacho for several hours or even a night to let the flavors marry and develop.
4. Pour the soup in bowls and garnish with the avocado, onion, cucumber, radishes, and parsley. Serve with fresh bread.