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August 2018 Trail Bytes: Gazpacho - a zesty tomato soup served cold at home or on the trail
August 15, 2018
Hello,

This month’s edition of Trail Bytes was inspired by the heat wave that greeted us in Switzerland when we returned from Scotland. With temperatures above 90° F (32° C), and no air-conditioning, the only relief was to linger in the refrigerated foods aisle at Migros. Meanwhile, my gardening friends have been posting photos of their prize tomatoes. So, considering the heat and bumper crops of tomatoes, the recipe for this month is gazpacho, a tomato soup that is prepared and served cold. It rehydrates easily in a thermos with cold water, and it makes a refreshing accompaniment to other summer lunch fare on the trail.

Gazpacho Recipe

Servings: 5 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. big ripe tomatoes (900 g)
  • 1 lb. cherry tomatoes (450 g)
  • 1 large red bell pepper (175 g)
  • Cucumber, ⅔ of a long one (250 g)
  • 1 medium red onion (60 g)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (use only if not dehydrating)

How to Make Gazpacho

Place large tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and fill pot with cold water to cool the tomatoes. Cut an X at one end of each tomato and the skins will peel off easily.

Dice the large tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Peel and remove seeds from cucumber before dicing. If desired, you can scrape out the seeds from the tomatoes before dicing. I left the seeds in the mix.

Place the diced vegetables in a bowl, and then grate the peel of one lemon into the mix. After grating, cut up the lemon and add the juice.

Place cherry tomatoes into a blender and blend until smooth. Add blended cherry tomatoes to diced vegetables in bowl.

Olive Oil: If you don’t plan on dehydrating the gazpacho, add the olive oil to the mix. If dehydrating, omit the olive oil, and add it separately on the trail when serving.

Stir in all seasonings and run the whole mix through the blender until smooth. Depending on the size of your blender, it make take a couple of trips through.

If not dehydrating, refrigerate gazpacho for two hours before serving. Garnish with some fresh basil. We liked it with a dollop of sour cream.

Dehydrating Gazpacho

This recipe will produce six to seven cups of blended gazpacho.

If using an Excalibur Dehydrator, spread 1⅓ cups of gazpacho on each of five trays. Dehydrate for approximately twelve hours at 135° F. Not wanting to increase the heat in the flat during the day, I dried mine overnight with a window open.

After ten hours, the gazpacho can be peeled off the non-stick sheets and put back into the dehydrator for a couple more hours, directly on the mesh sheets. Tomatoes have a fairly high sugar content which makes the dried leather a little sticky. The extra time in the dehydrator reduces the stickiness.

Once the gazpacho leather was more brittle than leathery, I ran it through the blender and turned it into powder. As you can see in the photo, some of the powder stuck to the inside of the blender. After sitting a while, the powder clung to itself a little, but was easy to separate with a spoon. To dry the powder even more, I put the bowl of powder in the dehydrator for thirty minutes, stirring it a few times. I’ve been experimenting lately with reducing barks to powder in order to make measuring more precise.

Yield: This recipe produced 1¼ cups gazpacho powder.

On the Trail

1 Serving

  • ¼ cup gazpacho powder
  • 1 – 2 spoonfuls of olive oil
  • 1 cup cold water

Combine a quarter-cup of gazpacho powder with one cup cold water in a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake container and wait at least thirty minutes for best results. When ready to eat, add one or two spoonfuls of olive oil and shake the container again. I used a thermos food jar. The serving amount filled the thermos lid two times.

Due to the concentration of tomatoes – the high acid content of which could cause an upset stomach – I like this soup as a side, in a small serving size, rather than as a larger main course. On a hot summer day on the trail, it will help keep you hydrated. It goes well with bread and cheese, or with tuna rolled up in tortillas.

How was it?

Refreshing and delicious! The olive oil blends in nicely and provides needed calories from fat for the afternoon. Don’t forget the cumin; it brightens up the aroma and flavor. If you like things hot, a pinch of cayenne pepper won’t harm, or a slice of dried jalapeño pepper per serving will do the trick. The ¼ teaspoon of black pepper and ¼ teaspoon of paprika in the full batch was enough heat for our tastes.

Great Glen Way

Dominique and I hiked the 79-mile Great Glen Way in Scotland the last week of July. The route runs along lochs and canals which link the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea, starting at Fort William and ending at Inverness. The valley, or glen, was formed eons ago by the collision of tectonic plates, followed by glacial scouring during the last ice age. As we walked, the North-West Highlands were on our left, and the Grampian Mountains were on the right.

We had a great time! The scenery was beautiful, the weather near perfect, our Scottish hosts were friendly, and the infamous midges (tiny biting gnats) rarely bothered us.

I’ve posted a photo slide show and trip report on the website here:

Great Glen Way Photos and Trip Report

I hope you enjoy the gazpacho and the Great Glen Way report. We’ll see you again in September.

Freundliche Grüsse,

Chef Glenn & Dominique

P.S. If you have any questions or comments about this issue of Trail Bytes, please reply to this email or use the contact form at BackpackingChef.com.

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