Nourish your gut and support your immune system with this fermented gazpacho recipe that is very simple to make. Paleo, GAPS, and SCD friendly.
I started making gazpacho years ago thanks to my love of putting a bunch of raw veggies into a food processor and having a meal done in minutes. 😉 This version of gazpacho isn’t dominated by tomatoes, but a delicate balance between all of the ingredients. And the kalamata olive flavor gently nudges it toward greek cuisine. But what makes this cold soup truly nourishing is the fermentation process which makes the nutrients from the plants easier for our bodies to absorb, and of course, provides our bodies with probiotics. What is fermentation exactly? The over-simplified explanation is that it is the process of bacteria (i.e. cultures) converting sugars in food into lactic acid. If you’d like more information, I recommend reading Cultures for Health’s article.
Our overall health begins in our gut. An unhealthy gut manifests in different ways for each of us depending on our genes. Scientists are learning more and more about our relationship with our gut, but it is agreed upon that eating more fermented foods is paramount to our health. As a culture we used to eat a lot more of these foods when canning and preserving was common practice. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics that support our immune systems and also feed the cells of our intestinal wall, keeping our first line of defense healthy and working properly. Taking a probiotic supplement is one way to go, but according to Dr. Campbell-McBride, (here’s an interview with her) fermented foods contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement. Personally, I think they’re also a lot of fun to make and are definitely more cost effective.
If you’ve never cultured (another word for “fermented”) vegetables before, this recipe is a great place to start. No special bacteria cultures required, just high-quality pickle juice from fermented jarred pickles you can buy at the store. I prefer the Bubbie’s brand personally.
A couple things I’ve learned about fermenting food over the years:
- Any starter culture liquid – whey, water kefir, kombucha, or brine from a previous ferment, may be used interchangeably in a recipe. I use the brine from a previous ferment most often, because it’s the easiest for me. Using only salt works too!
- If you’d like to use pickle brine, as suggested in this recipe, know that pickles are either picked or fermented. Only the fermented kind will work when fermenting your own food. The fermented pickles are sold in the refrigerated section. The pickled variety can be warm and sold from an inner aisle.
- As I said above, using just salt is another way to ferment vegetables. A salt-only fermentation process is usually used when you want the vegetables to remain crispy and preserve them for a long amount of time. Thus, it’s typically used for krauts. However, I do include directions in the recipe as well.
- You know the process is moving along as it should be if you see tiny bubbles in the food. This should happen within 24 hours of adding the pickle brine/juice.
- If you live in a climate where the temperature varies greatly from winter to summer, you will have different results during different parts of the year. I live in Minnesota, and in the winter when my home is cooler, it will take longer for my food to ferment. I leave it sitting on the counter next to the stove top hoping to give it bursts of warmer air, but still it just takes longer. The process hums along a lot faster in the summer. I have found that fermented food usually likes it between the low 70s and low 80s Fahrenheit.
- Your fermenting food will generate a lot of gas in the jar (this is a good thing!!), so if you do put a top on it, don’t screw it down. I’ve made this mistake before and you would not believe the range of a food explosion thanks to these little bacteria. POWERFUL I’m telling you! the A cheese cloth placed on top of the mason jar works well too.
- I’ve never had any problem with mold growing on my food, but if you do see it, throw out all of the food out.
Fermented Gazpacho with Kalamata Olives
- 1 green pepper seeds removed and chopped
- 1 red orange, or yellow pepper, seeds removed and chopped
- 1 cucumber seeds removed and chopped
- 4 medium tomatoes more if you would like the gazpacho to have strong tomato flavor
- 1 whole shallot
- 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup packed basil
- 1/4 cup packed parsley
- 1/4 cup pickle juice * Please see notes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil will be added after fermentation process is over
Place all (or in batches) ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and blend to desired consistency. A blender can also be used for a smoother texture.
Divide soup among 12 oz or 16 oz mason jars (or any small glass container) and cover gently with lid (do not screw it on) or cheese cloth.
Leave jar(s) on the counter for 48 - 72 hours. Fermentation rates will differ with location. The longer the gazpacho sits, the more beneficial bacteria will form. Feel free to taste test after 48 hours to decide if it should sit longer or not.
Before serving, stir in olive oil.
Garnish with chopped feta if there are no dairy issues.
Recipe Notes* Only pickle juice from fermented pickles will work in this recipe. Fermented pickle products are sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. If you can't find Bubbie's or the like, you can order a veggie culture (i.e. bacteria) starter from Culture's for Health or Dr. Mercola's website and use that for this recipe.
ANOTHER option is to ferment with salt alone. If you choose this method, the result will be slightly more crunchy and will take a little more time. Increase the salt to 1 tsp if going this route.
** As with all fermented foods, the finished soup with have quite a bit of tang to it. The longer the soup sits on the counter, the more tang it will have. Taste test the soup as it sits on your counter to determine when you'd like to stop the fermentation process and put it in your refrigerator. If the tang is too overpowering for you, I'd recommend blending in fresh or jarred tomatoes or tomato paste along with the olive oil before serving.