Editors' Picks

Eleven Madison Park's Strawberry Gazpacho

June 27, 2012

Every week -- often with your help -- FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Gazpacho, before the tomatoes.

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Unlike pie, with its revolving rainbow of seasonal flavors, gazpacho doesn't seem like a fill-in-the-blank situation. To most of us, it spells one thing: tomatoes, cold, smooth, and punchy.

But in truth, anything can be a gazpacho. Early last summer at Savoy, I ordered a green one, which my server led me to believe included everything in the kitchen that came in green: grapes, cucumber, pepitas, all the herbs. So hey -- you can call that gazpacho.

Amanda also makes a smooth white version whose only fruit is in the garnish (32 tiny balls cantaloupe -- everyone's favorite garnish!). The rest is just garlic, bread, almonds, oil, water. This too, gazpacho.

As our friend fiveandspice pointed out, while teliing me about this genius recipe from Eleven Madison Park: it's just not fair that we should have to wait till the tomatoes roll around.

Why should we have to wait until August to have gazpacho, (what I consider) the best cold soup, and main reason to own a blender? It was 99 degrees in New York last week, yet there are no tomatoes coming out of the ground yet. It's not right.

Yes, you can find hothouse tomatoes at the Greenmarket, but those have been there since March, so I don't trust them. We should wait until there are heirlooms and beefsteaks that can barely contain themselves, that smell of green stems and ripe red juice.

For now though, it's the strawberries that are perfumed and yielding, in their deep red prime. So why not make soup out of them, and let tomatoes wait their turn?

If you think about it, a strawberry is the same as tomato, even if it isn't: both are fruit, juicy and sweetly acidic, red.

But strawberries aren't just willing understudies -- they bring their own personality to the gazpacho title: a tart, sweet, rose-colored ramp up to the glories of late summer.

strawberry gazpacho


Here's how you make it: Toast some bread cubes in olive oil, garlic, and thyme and pile them in a bowl (save some for croutons!) with a few pints of strawberries and all the familiar auxiliary gazpacho players -- bell peppers, cucumber, vinegar, olive oil, more garlic.

Leave them all to their devices for a few hours to soften, macerate, and take up each others' essences and surrender their own. Then, when they're a technicolor stew, blend it all together. And strain it, but only if you want to serve something slick, with less fiber.


Chef Daniel Humm also adds confited strawberries and planks of guanciale and constructs a little fairytale scene on top, and you can too -- or you can just do the soup (and the croutons).

At least around here, there are going to be a lot of hot nights between now and tomato time.

Eleven Madison Park's Strawberry Gazpacho

From Eleven Madison Park, The Cookbook (Little, Brown and Company, 2011)

Serves 4 to 6

For the gazpacho:

1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed but kept whole 
1 1/2 cups whole grain bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 sprigs thyme
6 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 1/4 cups English cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 1/4 cups diced red bell pepper 
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper 
6 tablespoons tomato juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Tabasco sauce (optional)

For the croutons:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed but kept whole
2 cups diced (1/4 inch) whole grain bread, crusts removed
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt

See a slideshow and the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom 

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • deanna1001
  • Jonny
  • rosmarino
  • LucyLean
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


deanna1001 June 13, 2016
I made this for a small Tony awards party and it was a huge hit! Delicious. Did not bother to strain it and don't think it made much difference. And used regular cucumbers as I think ours have more flavor. And a small plum tomato rather than juice. Ended up adding a smidgen of salt but that was all it needed. Genius indeed.
Jonny July 17, 2013
What Amanda makes is called Ajoblanco (garlic, almonds, water, bread, olive oil) and it's also from Andalucia
rosmarino July 4, 2012
Interesting, but non english cucumbers are (I'd assume) best
LucyLean July 1, 2012
This is so similar to the recipe I included in MADE IN AMERICA; OUR BEST CHEFS REINVENT COMFORT FOOD from Chef David Kinch at Manresa. Love making gazpacho with strawberries.
MERRILY B. July 1, 2012
Question, can you use a substitute for bell peppers ?In the strawberry gazpacho , first time for me hope I did this right.
MERRILY B. July 1, 2012
Question, can you use a substitute for bell peppers ?In the strawberry gazpacho , first time for me hope I did this right.
Parchita July 1, 2012
What a fun spin on gazpacho—I can't wait to try it! I'd like to put in a plug, though, for hothouse tomatoes—as long as they're flavorful—as a fine candidate for traditional gazpacho and its pared-down sibling, salmorejo, which is just tomatoes, bread, olive oil, and touch of garlic and vinegar. I developed a salmorejo addiction after living two years in Andalucia, and I've had great results with hothouse tomatoes (the "Backyard Beauties" from Maine). In the summer, when garden-fresh tomatoes become available, I go for standard varieties for pureed soups; I think heirloom tomatoes are best enjoyed in a more intact form!
reggieyum July 1, 2012
I can only eat so much tomato-based gazpacho before the canker sores start appearing in my mouth. I have solved this dilemma by using watermelon as the base for this COOL soup. No tomatoes or tomato juice, just watermelon and all the other great things usually found in gazpacho. Oh yes, we add a hot or green chili sauce zing too here in New Mexico, and I also add jicama to the blender and often some chopped jicama and cilantro at the end. The great thing about using the watermelon is it can either be very ripe, or not so much -- it works either way. Viva early gazpacho!
Teresa W. July 1, 2012
This sounds amazing, how much watermelon do you use? Would love to try this!
ChrisVeros June 29, 2012
I picked up an obsession with gazpacho after I visited Barcelona... I'm pretty sure the bread is the key, and I believe white almonds are supposed to be in there too (marcona of course.)
So tomato is not the only kind of gazpacho, in fact most of the times you've had it it was probably just watery salsa and not real gazpacho anyway.
pierino June 27, 2012
The original gazpacho existed in Spain during its Moorish occupation well before the introduction of the tomato as food, like post Columbus. The "white" version included nuts and grapes and bread. And it's still damn good.
fiveandspice June 27, 2012
Wait a sec! Does that mean it existed before blenders too??!!... ;)
pierino June 27, 2012
Yes, but after the invention of the mortar and pestel.
Kristen M. June 28, 2012
Thanks pierino -- you're right, it is still damn good. I don't think I'd want to make it in a mortar & pestle though.
CookLikeMad June 27, 2012
I actually made this during a brief stage at EMP. It was served with one small, sweet shrimp as an amuse bouche. The Tabasco adds that necessary extra punch. I serve it at home with several shrimp on top and a hunk of crusty French bread for a light dinner. Love this recipe!
Kristen M. June 28, 2012
I like that Daniel Humm uses Tabasco. And love the idea of shrimp!
fiveandspice June 27, 2012
Yay! Glad you tried and liked this recipe! It's become my hot-weather favorite. No offense intended toward tomatoes, but they've kind of been totally displaced from my gazpacho making.
Kristen M. June 28, 2012
Thank you for sending it to me! We loved it, and I have more of an equal opportunity attitude toward gazpacho now because of it.