Your Tomatoes Are Begging You: Don't Make These Common Gazpacho Mistakes (2024)

Gazpacho is one of summer's purest and simplest pleasures. While there are many iterations of gazpacho these days, from almond-based Ajo Blanco to fruity watermelon gazpacho to the classic red tomato version, they all share one thing in common: Great gazpacho is chilled, light, and refreshing.

This cold soup is easy to make at home, but it's also easy to screw up—there are a surprising number of ways you can go wrong. To help you avoid them, we spoke with the BA test kitchen about the most common mistakes people make when preparing this warm-weather Spanish soup. Keep this guide in mind, and you're well on your way to gazpacho perfection. Oh, and then put them to work in this gazpacho recipe.

1. Making It out of Season

"Make [tomato gazpacho] in August, or don't make it at all," says Claire Saffitz, associate food editor. Granted, if you live in a region where you're blessed with ripe and juicy tomatoes eight months out of the year, have at it. But, for the rest of us with a short growing season (love ya, New York!), traditional gazpacho should be reserved as a seasonal treat. The delicate balance between sweet and acidic is what makes gazpacho so mind-blowingly good—and it only comes from fresh, recently-picked tomatoes. Thinking about making gazpacho with canned tomatoes? Think again.

Buy 'em fresh, then lose the skins. Photo: Mike Lorrig

Mike Lorrig

2. Leaving in the Seeds and Skins

A little texture is a good thing when making gazpacho (and yes, it is a rustic dish), but you shouldn't be chewing on your soup. That means removing watermelon, tomato, and cuke seeds, and peeling tough cucumber skins. Although it's often okay to leave on tomato skins when cooking them, they are too fibrous to slurp in soup form. To remove the skins, mark a small "X" on the bottom, gently lower them into boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water. The skins will slip right off, and you can proceed with the gazpacho recipe.

Caveat: If you have a high-powered blender that can really pulverize the skins, go ahead and leave them on. The name of the game is just avoiding big sheets of chewy skin that sneak on to your spoon.

3. Not Adding Enough Seasoning

"Cold soups require a surprising amount of seasoning, even more than hot soups," says Saffitz. That means more salt, yes, but also more acid (think lemon juice or vinegar) and heat (like chiles). Taste, season, chill, and then—this is key—taste and re-season after it's chilled. You'll be floored by how much the flavors become muted after a rest in the fridge.

That said, it's possible to add too much to your gazpacho. "Many people make their gazpacho too sweet," says Brad Leone, test kitchen manager. Ripe, in-season produce will add all the sugar you need, so resist the urge to go crazy with the sugar. (Unless, of course, you're making a berry-based dessert gazpacho—in which case, you're on a totally different playing field.)

Your Tomatoes Are Begging You: Don't Make These Common Gazpacho Mistakes (2024)
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