Life Gave Me Tomatoes

IMG_3230First off — winner of the Unums (Unuii?) and JM Teas is Sapphire!

We’re in the midst of one of those sultry heat waves along the mid-Atlantic. Running errands in my car a couple days ago, the temperature gauge didn’t dip below 100 (that’s 37.7 Celsius) until I left the grocery store at 8pm. The humidity makes it even hotter, and stops it from cooling off overnight. On Saturday my home A/C broke, because of course it did. I was thrilled to be able to get the landlord to wangle a visit from the HVAC repair tech. Until that happened we went old school. I know how to do it because (crazy as it seems) I grew up in this area without air conditioning. You shut the blinds, turn on the attic fan to draw the heat out, and move downstairs to the ground floor.   In weather like this, I refuse to do any cooking that involves the stove or oven, so it’s a lot of salads and sandwiches.

And gazpacho. I never had gazpacho until I started vacationing in the summer with my husband’s family, and my mother-in- law made it every day. Hers was a complicated, multi-hour affair involving trips to the farmer’s market (twice), blanching of tomatoes on the stove, walking to a neighbor’s herb garden, etc. Then we had to wait hours for it to chill in the fridge. No matter how long it took, it was worth it. I was hooked with that first tangy swig.

Over time I’ve learned what I like in a gazpacho – some diced bits remaining, rather than finely pureed (which makes it too much like tomato soup). More olive oil and less vinegar, since the tomatoes are already acidic. And finally: if I’m making gazpacho it’s probably hot as hell outside, which calls for minimum effort rather than endless fussing.

Don’t let anyone tell you there’s a “right” way to make gazpacho. As this delightful article from a Madrid chef notes, gazpacho is as individual as each family’s beloved recipe. You do you. If you’re a gazpacho fan, I recommend reading that article, because it’s got all sorts of great ideas for tweaks and variations.

If you haven’t made gazpacho because it seems too complicated – it can be as simple (and delicious) as this recipe, which uses canned tomatoes and takes maybe 10 minutes and is absolutely delicious. If that isn’t blowing your skirt up, google “easy gazpacho” and choose something different.

Since clearly I’m not doing a perfume review today (sorry!) here’s March’s Lazy-Ass Kombuchapacho™. Cheers.

2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes (use one with the hot green chilies if you want)

half a red or white onion, chopped

one crushed clove garlic, if you want (or use garlic powder, I don’t care)

half cup kombucha (add more as you go, if you want the soup thinner)

fresh herbs (basil, mint, tarragon, or oregano – you choose)

Tablespoon of olive oil

salt and pepper

Throw all that in the blender or food processor till it’s finely chopped but not totally pureed, unless you want it pureed, which is fine, knock yourself out. Chill for an hour (you and the soup.)

NOTES: you can add chopped, seeded cucumber and bell pepper if you’re less lazy than me, which is likely. I use kombucha in place of the same amount of water/vinegar because the end result is less acidic and more umami. At this point I think kombucha’s the new iced tea (which is where you find it at the grocer’s, it comes in a chilled bottle), so it’s not hard to get. I like the GT Ginger one.



  • Kathryn says:

    Here in northern New England the weather hasn’t been quite as beastly, but it’s been bad enough. Lately temperatures have been in the 90’s with high humidity and unhealthy ozone levels. The huge old maple trees that shade my house have been my major source of air conditioning. I’m fortunate to live on a hill so I catch a breeze on the occasions when there is one. Still, there have been days on end when it has been so hot that my brain has just refused to function. I don’t know what I’ll blame for my mental lapses when the weather improves.

    I’ve been making something similar to your gazpacho, but a salad rather than a soup. Mostly chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, a bit of onion and green pepper, some crumbled feta, a splash of olive oil. You’re right that tomatoes are acidic enough and need no vinegar. I’ve been using zaatar and Aleppo pepper flakes to season since that’s what the original recipe called for, but think it would be just as good with basil, thyme or parsley and some jalapeños. It’s all I’ve wanted to eat lately.

    Most days it has been much too hot for perfume, but I’ve been among the many on MUA who picked up a bottle of Irene Neuwirth when it was forty percent off the clearance price at Barney’s Warehouse. They’ were just giving it away, right? It’s quite pretty and lighthearted and surprisingly nice to wear in this kind of weather.

  • Ann says:

    Hi, March! So sorry to hear about the A/C (it always seems to go out at the WORST possible time, yes?), but hope all is now chillin’ again in your world. Love your easy gazpacho recipe. I haven’t had it in years, since I worked at the paper downtown and always got it at a cool little global cafe. Thanks!

  • Tatiana says:

    GT gingerade kombucha is one of my favorites. My daughter sent over two pint jars of homemade kombucha last night. She says if I don’t help her drink it there is too much for one person and she won’t be able to keep up with her scoby. Or something like that. I’m just grateful for free kombucha. She sent over ginger orange and ginger peach.
    Haven’t had gazpacho in ages, since we last lived in a house without AC here in CA. I like mine with cilantro in it. I get it if it tastes soapy to others, so I just chop it up and set it out as a topping, along with chopped jalepenos from the garden.

  • Sapphire. says:

    Woo-hoo! I am so excited! I have really been wanting to try those tea scents. Also love gazpacho, but haven’t had any in years. I don’t think the Philistines (my sons) would eat it, but it sounds so refreshing.

  • HeidiC says:

    Kombucha! What an interesting choice! I wouldn’t have thought of that. And I haven’t had gazpacho since I lived in Salt Lake City in an apartment without AC — you’re right, it’s just the thing. I like mine chunky, with some texture.

  • cinnamon says:

    Is that a pic of your tomatoes at top of post? Gorgeous. Strangely, my father had the aircon on during the day when we were in NY but turned it off at night. Made it much more difficult to sleep, even with a big fan. Couldn’t convince him to leave it on..I’m with Rosarita313 on showers before bed. And ice tea!!! Tried loads of different sorts during the two weeks, from Snapple at the grocery to fancy stuff from the gourmet market.

  • rosarita313 says:

    Oh life without AC, I remember it well, it’s how I grew up. For a while I lived in an unairconditioned apartment in Houston (way back in the day when the weather and I were both hot) and that’s when I discovered Dr Bronner’s peppermint soap. Dilute half and half with water, shower right before bed. It really helped.
    Thanks for posting your gazpacho recipe, it sounds delicious and just the thing for hot days.

    • Musette says:

      I currently live in a house without central a/c. El O has a window until in his den but he keeps it at 50F (or at least it feels like it) so I can’t spend much time in there. We have a compressor but it’ll be several decades before he gets around to piping it in. Ah, well. I really don’t like a/c but on those days when the temps fly to the stratosphere …..

      I have never gotten into gazpacho, alas. For such a tomato processin’ woman I tend to like my tomatoes in salads (moderate) , salsa and pasta sauce. Weird. But true.


  • Portia says:

    Heya March,
    One of my happiest memories of Ibiza was the store bought gazpacho in a milk carton. Slightly sweet and so delicious.
    Jin & I were back in Spain this year and couldn’t find it anywhere. Completely DEVO!
    Never even thought to make my own, looks so easy.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      You couldn’t find it? I’m stunned. I assumed it would be everywhere. Honestly, gazpacho’s no more labor intensive than a smoothie if you skip all the fussy parts. Chop some stuff up and throw it in the blender with some liquid.