It's a perfect dish for when you want an easy meal that doesn’t require standing over a hot stove. And it's also super quick and ready in about 20 minutes.
I came by it originally way back in my grad student days when I was studying to be a translator, and lived for several months in the south of Spain.
For part of that time, I rented a room in the home of an elderly Spanish woman who also provided lunch and dinner for her boarders. These meals were simple, everyday affairs – nothing lavish or grand about them - but I enjoyed them nonetheless.
One of my favorite dinners was the Señora’s gazpacho, a delicious tangy medley of tomato, garlic and hot pepper that she served with a generous portion of bread and some salad.
This chilled soup was an entirely new culinary experience for me, and it tasted sublime in the heat of a late August Andalusian day. I loved it.
This summer during some travels to Europe, I happened to see it on the menu in a restaurant, which jogged my memory and desire to find it once again.
With the tomatoes ripening on the vine in our garden, it was the perfect time to try to make it.
I found a few gazpacho recipes on the internet, and after some trial and error, I managed to arrive at one that pretty closely matches the flavor of the tomato base I remember.
However, I wanted to make the soup a heartier meal for larger appetites, so in place of the bread used as thickener in the recipes I found (which I don’t even recall being a part of the original recipe), I opted instead to use quinoa and chick peas for their higher protein content.
But in this case, I went with it because I wasn't just looking for a grain to go with the meal, but some added protein, as well, and quinoa can provide that better than rice can.
And it has the added advantage of cooking quickly, which means you don’t have to heat your kitchen much on a summer day to get the meal on the table.
Still, you could use brown rice instead in this recipe, particularly if you already have some cooked up from an earlier meal, and if you already have the addition of extra chick peas for protein.
It would not alter the flavor much at all and the texture only slightly.
- It can be made with canned diced, crushed or whole tomatoes, and it’s, of course, perfect with tomatoes fresh off the vine from the garden. When I use fresh tomatoes, I include all parts – skin, seeds and all. You’re going to put it through the blender anyway, so it doesn’t matter at all that they’re included. And frankly, I don’t see the reason for the fuss and bother about removing them, as demanded in so many sauce and soup recipes. It just strikes me as a lot of extra work to get rid of something that has good nutrition and fiber in it and can add interesting color and texture to a dish. And I’m never looking for extra work in the kitchen. Particularly in the heat of summer.
- I prefer this soup served room temperature, rather than chilled. And there’s nothing saying that you couldn’t eat it warm either. Try it different ways to see which way you like it best.
- You can vary the amount of chick peas you add, or eliminate them altogether if that is more to your taste, or to suit your family size and appetites.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes about 6-8 servings
Prep time - Approx. 15 minutes
Start to finish time - Approx. 20 minutes (longer if serving chilled)
Total recipe cost – Approx. $7.00
Total per person meal cost with tossed salad and fresh whole grain bread – Approx. $1.50
2 pounds fresh tomatoes or 1 large can (29-32 ounces) of diced, whole, or crushed tomatoes)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of water
1 green pepper
1 small-medium cucumber
1 small onion
3-6 cloves garlic (to taste)
2 cups of loosely packed arugula or greens of your choice
1 tablespoon wine or balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
1-2 cans of chick peas (14-16 ounce size)(depends on how many servings you want)
Salt and pepper to taste
Recipe continues after photos
- Measure out the 1 cup of water and add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it is boiling, add the 1/2 cup of quinoa. Replace the cover, reduce the heat to medium, and bring back to a boil. Set the timer for 15 minutes and go on to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once the timer for the quinoa goes off, stir it, remove it from the heat.
- While the quinoa is cooking, wash the 1 green pepper, cut off the top, and remove the seeds. Cut it in half, and then cut each half into long strips. That's good enough, or you can cut across the strips to dice them if your blender or food processor works better that way. Set it aside.
- Cut the ends off the 1 medium onion and peel it. Cut it in half and then into quarters or eighths, or whatever size will fit easily into your food processor or blender. Set them aside with the peppers.
- Wash the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Slice them lengthwise in half and then again into fourths. Leave them as is, or cut across the lengths to make smaller pieces to make them fit better in the blender or food processor.
- Peel the garlic cloves and set them aside.
- If you are using fresh tomatoes, wash them and cut off the stems. Cut them in half and lay each half, flat side down on the cutting board. Cut each half into strips and then cut across the strips to dice the tomatoes. Scrape them into the blender or food processor.
- If you are using canned tomato product, open it and pour it into the blender or food processor
- Add all the other ingredients --- except the chick peas and the quinoa --- to the tomatoes in the blender or food processor (1 cut up or diced green pepper, 1 cut up or diced small-medium cucumber, 1 small onion, cut up or diced, 4-6 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of arugula or other greens, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 tablespoon hot sauce, 1 tablespoon vinegar).
- Pulse the food processor of blender until there are no more large chunks, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary to make sure everything is combined and well blended. Depending on your blender, it will take about a minute or so.
- When the quinoa is done, stir it into the tomato mixture in the pot, blending well.
- Drain the 1-2 cans of chick peas.
- Add the chick peas to the tomato mixture.
- Taste test and adjust the seasonings, as needed.
- The soup can be served immediately, or after an hour or so standing covered on the counter at room temperature, or covered and chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Serve it plain or garnished with more arugula, more diced green pepper, cucumbers, or any vegetable of your choosing. It goes great with fresh bread and a nice tossed salad for a delicious, refreshing summer meal.