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There is some evidence that this refreshing summer dish originally came, like most good things, from Italy. It may have been brought to Spain by the Romans, who had a soft spot for bread dipped in vinegar (note that gazpacho predates the arrival of tomatoes and cucumbers from the New World – originally it was a peasant soup made with bread, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and water). The liquid-solid version offered here by Gennaro Russo, executive chef of Le Sirenuse’s Michelin-starred restaurant La Sponda, is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, with the puréed soup surrounding a colourful centrepiece of its diced and sliced ingredients.
1 kg (2.2lb) vine tomatoes (pomodori ramati)
3 medium-sized cucumbers
2 red bellpeppers
1 yellow bellpepper
3 celery stalks
250g (9oz) day-old white bread
2 white onions
Salad leaves for trimming
1.5 tablespoons good wine or sherry vinegar
Salt, pepper and olive oil to taste
Reserve 200g of tomatoes, the yellow pepper, one cucumber and celery stalk,and the salad leaves. Chop the other solid ingredients into rough cubes, and combine in a bowl, adding the vinegar and salt. Stir, then leave overnight. Process using a hand-cranked food mill fitted with a small-holed screen, or blitz in a food processor on a high setting for around two minutes. Strain the result into a bowl through a fine-meshed strainer and discard the pulp. Pour a thread of good olive oil into the bowl and stir well.
Dice most of the ingredients you set aside chinoise-style, with a few of the tomatoes cut into rounds and some thin spirals or cylinders of cucumber (see photo). Arrange artistically in the centre of each bowl garnished with the salad leaves, and carefully ladle or pour the gazpacho around this.
Photos © Roberto Salomone