Gazpacho seems to be everywhere, but it’s not always red-letter. On our hunt for truly outstanding summer soup, we went to Nantucket Island, where Greg Margolis—who helms the Nantucket Culinary Center with his wife, Joy—can’t keep his divine gazpacho in stock.
Greg has refined his recipe over years and very possibly thousands of gallons. “The recipe has really evolved from my childhood gazpacho,” Greg laughs. “Originally it was canned tomato juice and bread for thickener.” Now he’s devoted to heirloom tomatoes and a nuanced balance of consistency. For this recipe, he’s added a seafood garnish that puts it unreachably over the top.
Greg sees this recipe as ideal for anyone looking to fine-tune her knife skills. The goal is to dice all the vegetables into quarter-inch cubes, which requires a slightly different approach for each vegetable. The knife work will soon become second-nature (“First get it right, then you can do it fast,” Greg says). And it will pay off for this soup and many others because, as Greg explains, “There’s a rule of thumb when making soup that no matter how many ingredients there are, you should be able to get all of them on your spoon at once.”
Get ready to make your best (or first!) gazpacho ever.
Nantucket Gazpacho with Crabmeat
Serves about eight
1 cup diced peppers (in a variety of colors)
1 cup diced red onions
2 cups seeded, peeled, and chopped cucumbers either (traditional field or English are fine)
2 small hot peppers, such as jalapeño
3 lbs. tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, microplaned
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste
Crabmeat and chopped-herb garnish:
1 lb Maryland blue crab or Dungeness crab
chopped herbs such as marjoram and flowering chives
drizzle of olive oil
Put out two large bowls—one will hold the excess vegetable parts that don’t get diced along with any seeds and juices and will ultimately be puréed. The other will hold the diced vegetables.
Dice all vegetables, as illustrated below, putting excess bits into the purée bowl.
Combine contents from purée bowl in a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix, and drizzle olive oil. Purée the contents until thoroughly blended.
Pour the purée over the diced vegetables and blend with a large spoon. Add remaining ingredients—cumin, vinegars, garlic, and lime—and stir thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.
For the garnish, toss crabmeat with chopped herbs and drizzle of olive oil. Spoon crabmeat into the center of each soup bowl, making a tall pile, and ladle the gazpacho around it. Finish with a swirl of olive oil and serve.
There’s a rule of thumb when making soup that, no matter how many ingredients there are, you should be able to get all of them on your spoon at once.
A word from Greg on knives: “The most critical thing about a knife is that it’s sharp. Until you’re ready to take the time and sharpen them up, use cheap knives. Once you can’t get an edge, throw it out. The essential knife lineup to have on hand is a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife for things like slicing tomatoes and bread.”
A word on tomatoes, which Greg calls “the body of this soup”: Have fun buying lots of heirlooms for this recipe. Heirlooms are not grown to be shipped, so they are always ready to eat immediately. Greg loves too many to count but mentions some favorites, all of which have great names: the Brandywine, the Paul Robeson, the Mortgage Lifter, the Purple Cherokee, and the Green Zebra.
Soups are one of the last great peasant foods. They just make everyone superhappy.