Gazpacho, Smoky French Style

Here, the simple purity of summer tomatoes and red bell peppers grilled gently over the coals, teamed with farm-fresh cucumbers, garlic, and onions makes this the most refreshing gazpacho you’re likely to taste. It speaks of the finest and most fresh ingredients, softly spiked with hot pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Simple to prepare, I predict that once you’ve tried it, your summer meals will rarely be without it! SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: long tongs, metal spatula, wood chips or grapevine cuttings sarments de vigne, food processor PREPARATION AND GRILL TIME: 2 hours and 25 minutes, including 2 hours chilling time (minimum). DIFFICULTY LEVEL: simple
Servings: 6 people
  • About 2 pounds;1 kg medium-sized firm yet ripe tomatoes, sliced in half horizontally
  • One medium-sized (8 ounce;250g) red bell pepper cutquarters, seeds and pith removed
  • 1 small (3 ounce; 90g), onion peeled and quartered, preferably fresh and sweet
  • 1 good-sized (10 ounce; 300g) cucumber peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove new garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Piment d’Espelette or an equal mix of sweet and hot paprika to your taste
  • Basil leaves - - for garnish
  1. Seed the tomatoes. Brush them and the pepper with oil.
  2. Light a medium-sized fire in the barbecue. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, spread them in a tight, single layer; they need to emit concentrated heat.
  3. Place a handful of grape vine cuttings or wood chips over the coals and let them burn for a minute or two, then set the grill over the coals and put the barbecue cover in place, vents open. When the grill is hot, place the vegetables directly over the coals, cut-side down. Grill until the tomatoes and the peppers are marked with grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes, then turn them, sprinkle with salt, cover the grill, and cook until the tomatoes are tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes from the grill to a shallow soup bowl or platter that will catch the juices. Cover the grill and continue grilling the peppers until their skin is blackened and the peppers are tender, an additional 5 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag, to sweat.
  4. Remove the skin from the tomatoes and the peppers, and discard. Save all the juices from both the tomatoes and the pepper.
  5. Place the tomatoes with their juices, all but one quarter of the pepper with any juices from the pepper, the onion, the cucumber and the garlic in the work bowl of a food processor fit with a steel blade, and process until you have a thick purée. Add the lemon juice and the piment d’Espelette, pulse, and adjust the seasoning. Place the gazpacho in the refrigerator, covered, to chill. This will take at least 2 hours.
  6. About 10 minutes before serving the soup, remove it from the refrigerator. Dice the remaining quarter of grilled pepper. Adjust the seasoning of the soup and divide it among 6 or 8 bowls. Drizzle each bowl with a bit of the remaining olive oil, garnish with some of the diced pepper and a basil leaf or two.

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