Musings of an Obscure Composer

The Nagual Composer's periodic musings on the milieu of "New Music," and other topics that cross his mind.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

“Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish, game or any other dish?”

"Only the pure of heart can make good soup" - Beethoven

The last three months have been even more of non-summer than usual in the Bay Area. Decent tomatoes only recently arrived. It’s not a great year for tomatoes. Still there are some ripe ones out now. The cheapest tomatoes at my local farmers’ market are the slightly overly-ripe tomatoes that will be too soft at any moment. Get them for song and make gazpacho rojo.

Gazpacho rojo is often considered an Andalusian dish, but the recipe I use comes from the version made by the Catalan chef, Antonio Buendía, which was published in the Chronicle. Buendía owned and operated Vinga, a great Catalan restaurant in the then-rising South of Market in San Francisco. Alas, he went on to an easier life teaching cooking in Puerto Rico.

I use more almonds than are called for in Buendía’s recipe. I suggest peeling the almonds before blending. To peal the almonds, just blanche them in boiling water for a moment and pop them out of their skins. Then toast them in 350 degree oven.

I add more and pimentón than his recipe suggests. I have a Mexican passion for Capsaicin, rather than a Catalan sense of restraint about it. The original recipe doesn’t call for as much pimentón as I like.

Take the quantities with a grain of salt. Maybe you’ll want more tomatoes or red pepper. I’ve added croutons to the dish, which may upset Catalan purists. In the interest of passionate excess, I use more red and yellow peppers then are called for in the original recipe.

You can strain the soup for a more elegant presentation. Personally, I like the texture and I don;t strain it.

If you are making double or triple recipe (and why shouldn’t you?) and will eat it later, add very little water. the soup thickens and in the refrigerator. Before serving shake some water and crushed ice in a cocktail shaker and thin to the desired consistency. Then empty the shake, add more crushed ice and make the Floridita Cocktail, the recipe for which can be found in one of my previous blogs.

Suggested music to accompany your soup: Mompou Piano Music, Stephen Hough piano, Hyperion, ASIN: B000002ZZP


Serves 6 to 8.


4 slices stale, toasted baguette
4 thick slices of baguette, cubed drizzled with olive oil and toasted until brown
2 lbs. very ripe tomatoes
1 medium green bell pepper

2 medium red bell pepper

2 medium yellow bell pepper

3 cloves of garlic

1 large seedless cucumber or 4-5 small cucumber (seed them if they are heavily seeded)

2.5 oz. peeled and toasted almonds

1 tbs. bittersweet pimentón
3/4 tsp. hot pimentón
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup sherry wine vinegar

½ cup iced water

2 Tbs. salt, to taste


In batches, puree the ingredients, except for the croutons in a blender. Chill for several hours. Thin to desire consistency with iced water before serving.

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