Monday, May 31, 2010

The French Laundry: Gazpacho

What's good for your palate is not good for your Prada. If you decide to make this recipe, make sure to vacuum-seal your favorite closet items, stash them in a bin and put it in the trunk of your car and park the car ten zip codes away from your kitchen!

OK, I'm overreacting but consider yourself warned with the smell of vinegary goodness this recipe brings into your kitchen.


Hope I didn't scare you. The soup itself is actually very simple to make. Anyone could do it. It involves just 3 steps: chop, mix, strain and voila! Ok, maybe four if you think declaring "voila" is a step on its own. And yes, you read it right, there's no cooking involved in this.

So that's for the soup. The balsamic glaze it needs as a garnish is another story. It took about an hour and a half to make. And if you don't have a Dutch oven or a diffuser, it requires constant glances to keep the "steam rising without simmering". And this slow reduction process releases a sweet & tarty aroma that nearly cost me my entire wardrobe!
Yes, all that heartache just for a garnish. Ok, I'm overreacting again. =)

Here's what you'll need.
French Laundry Gazpacho (2)

Ingredients can be found here.
And if you're wondering what the heck is an English cucumber, you're not alone.

First is to reduce the balsamic vinegar.
The book recommends using a diffuser for this (or maybe a Dutch oven) but I have a "melt" setting on my cooktop so I kinda got by.

French Laundry Gazpacho

You're done reducing the balsamic vinegar when it coats the back of the spoon and drips every so slowly.

French Laundry Gazpacho (1)

I got about a cup of the balsamic glaze and stored it in a squeeze bottle.
As a bonus, I also got a one-of-kind "Prada-infused-with-Balsamic-Vinegar-of-Modena" purse.

Now for the soup, just mix all the chopped ingredients and put it in the fridge overnight.

French Laundry Gazpacho (3)

The following day, I removed the thyme, pureed the mixture, then strained it.
I'd suggest leaving a third of the mix unstrained so could see for yourself the difference between a smooth soup and chunky one.

Now another word of warning here. Do NOT underestimate the task of straining. Didn't realize it to be quite so meditative. There's something about the spooning and pushing the liquid through that sets you into a trance... reflecting on life, reminiscing about good 'ole college days, thinking of some wonderful memories from high school and all the way back to gradeschool. And after all that reminiscing, reflecting and thinking, you still won't done straining! It took 40 minutes to squeeze 4 cups out of the mix. Yes, you could end up with strained arm muscles from all the straining. No worries though. Redemption will quickly come in the form of compliments from friends who will all unanimously declare that the strained version is the clear winner of the two.

The verdict? This recipe rocks! But wait til my next post about a slightly sweet & summery variation of this. It's so cool and smooth and serving it made me feel the same way, cool and smooth! It was also the perfect good use of the leftover vegetables.

Time: Soup (unstrained) minus balsamic glaze = 15 minutes
Soup (strained) minus balsamic glaze = 1 hour
Soup (strained) plus balsamic glaze = 3 hours

Difficulty: Depends on your choice above.

Calories: About 130 per cup.

Total Cost: $12.50 and that's using all organic veggies. You kinda have to use organic vegetables for this since you're eating them raw.

Will I do this recipe again? Probably not this recipe exactly but definitely yes on its variation. Stay tuned...


  1. ¡Hola, G!

    Dios, mio! You´re preparing an authentic Spanish southern recipe? Wow, the Spanish would be so proud of you.;) Well, I have a secret to tell, my taste buds are not really keen on the flavor of gazpacho because I want my soup hot and not cold and slightly sweet too. hahaha! It´s perfect though as a sauce base for some dishes which I haven´t experimented yet.

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I hope that the fab Prada bag was safely sealed when you cook the caramelize the balsamic vinegar.;)

    Have a lovely week ahead!

    PS: I´m on a lookout for a sweet smelling cheese for your cheese puff recipe. The one I made although tasted good lacked that heavenly smell you´re raving about. ;)

  2. Oh my, I love gazpacho and that bag! Ooh, lovely!

  3. Hi Grace, You really are turning in to a master chef :). I do admire how well you can cook, but also your presentation is perfect.

    BTW, the Giorgio Armani fluid sheer i posted on my blog is not nail polish - it's highlighter/blush



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