There’s nothing better for a summertime meal than a bowl of cool, refreshing gazpacho. The Spanish classic combines a lot of good tastes – rich olive oil, acidic tomatoes and vinegar, sharp onion and garlic, and the simple, fresh taste of cucumber. For this version, we’ve also added some fresh melon to the mix, and the result is a soup that can cool you down on even the hottest of days. And of course, since a grilled cheese sandwich is the best pairing for tomato soup that we can think of, we’ve whipped of a version with muenster cheese and fresh-sliced tomatoes on toasted sourdough bread. This soup recipe makes a lot, but this is one of those dishes that gets better with a little time spent in the refrigerator. This is also a recipe that lends itself well to tinkering – both in ingredients and with the texture of the final product. Here’s what you’ll need:
Gazpacho with Melon (adapted from Stockton Briggle)
- 8 cloves garlic
- Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 3.5 pounds red, ripe tomatoes, halved and seeded
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
- 2 bunches scallions, chopped
- 1 small Crenshaw melon, halved, seeded, and cut up. You can also use cantaloupe for this recipe, but we prefer the flavor of the Crenshaws – they’re also pretty tasty served cold with a splash of lime juice (see right).
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 3 cups stale bread, cubed. We used sourdough because we are sourdough bread fiends, but you can use whatever bread you have at hand.
- Sherry, red wine, or balsamic vinegar to taste
- pinch of sugar
- finishing salt to taste
Peel the garlic and crush it with 2 teaspoons of coarse salt in a mortar. Place in a large bowl and add the tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, cucumber, scallions, melon, olive oil, and bread. Stir, cover tightly, and allow to macerate in the refrigerator at least six hours or overnight if possible.
Puree the ingredients in a blender in batches, adding a total of five cups of chilled water as you go. Stir in your vinegar and sugar, and add salt as needed. Allow to sit for about an hour in the fridge (although longer makes it better) and serve in small bowls or cups.
For our grilled cheese, take two slices of sourdough bread and layer two slices of tomato between four pieces of muenster cheese. Instead of butter, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread – this will create a very crisp, flavorful outside to your sandwich. We’re fond of Kewpie mayonnaise, a Japanese brand, because it’s a bit saltier than American mayo, but your favorite brand is fine. Mayo is mostly oil, so it isn’t as strange as one might think to use it to crisp up bread – and it doesn’t burn as easily as butter. Serve your sandwiches hot and melty and your soup cold with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar – and enjoy!