Tinned fish and tomatoes are a match made in heaven in this refreshing gazpacho

Anchovies are a secret ingredient of sorts. They dissolve when they hit hot oil, releasing a savory burst of flavor

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Deputy Food Editor

Published July 30, 2022 5:15PM (EDT)

Gaspacho soup (Getty Images/Fascinadora/500px)
Gaspacho soup (Getty Images/Fascinadora/500px)

It's always been a little easier for me to ideate "cold-weather meals" when it comes time to use up pantry staples. Pasta and chickpeas can be whipped into a cozy pasta e ceci. Coconut milk and rice are the building blocks for a decadent, cinnamon-doused rice pudding. And I've never met a stack of shelf-stable ingredients that I couldn't use to at least start a hearty stew.

Until this week, I had found myself increasingly stumped when I wanted to "shop my cabinets" for dinner, but nothing sounded delicious amid a series of little heatwaves. Over the past week, the Salon Food team has been celebrating summer tomato season by publishing a variety of recipes, how-to's and guides

While reading Joy Saha's comprehensive guide to summer tomatoes, which included a recipe for Spanish salmorejo, I realized that gazpacho was the answer to my summer pantry woes. Like salmorejo, gazpacho is a cool, summer soup made by blending up a variety of vegetables with oil until the mixture becomes smooth and decadent. Where salmorejo keeps it simple by just using tomato and garlic, there's more flexibility with gazpacho. 

Traditionally, gazpacho includes tomato, peppers, onion, cucumber and garlic — spiked with just a little bit of sherry vinegar and lots of good olive oil. When I consulted my pantry, I was pleased to find a large can of diced tomatoes, a tub of roasted red peppers and plenty of oil and vinegar. 

As I was about to close the cabinets, a pretty tin of anchovies also caught my eye. 

Earlier this summer, I was prompted by Dan Waber of Rainbow Tomatoes Garden in Pennsylvania to give tinned fish and tomatoes a try. Waber's Rainbow Tomatoes Garden is a farmstand that sells 80 different kinds of tomatoes, as well as the largest selection of tinned fish in the world. 

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Waber and I were emailing about a project when I asked how he'd become known for that combination. He said it sprang out of his personal tastes: "I thought, 'I don't know if anyone will want to buy tinned fish from a farm stand, but ventresca (the belly of the tuna) is traditionally served with tomatoes — and a mackerel, lettuce and tomato sandwich is wicked good — so, let's see.'" 

If you've never cooked with anchovies before, they're something of a secret ingredient.

He began with one order for a case each of a few different kinds of ventresca and mackerel, and they sold out on the first day. It was, of course, a proof of concept for Waber's business, but it's also proof of how well tinned fish and tomatoes work together. As such, why not try gazpacho with a little anchovy infusion? 

If you've never cooked with anchovies before, they're something of a secret ingredient. When they hit hot oil, they sizzle until they completely dissolve, imbuing the oil with a salty, savory kick that doesn't taste at all fishy. You can use this oil to amp up braised meatspasta sauces and roasted vegetables. Basically, anywhere you'd use oil but also want a boost of flavor. 

Such is the case with this gazpacho. The anchovy oil — in combination with the juicy tomatoes, refreshing cucumber and sharp onion and garlic — adds an understated savoriness to the cold soup, making it all the better to sop up with crusty bread.

Tinned Fish and Tomatoes Gazpacho
4-6 servings
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
10  minutes, plus chill time


  • 28 ounces canned, diced tomatoes 
  • 4 ounces roasted red peppers 
  • 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 English cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling 
  • 1-3 anchovies 
  • Crusty bread


  1. In a large blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, roasted red peppers, onion, cucumber and garlic. Blend until incredibly smooth, about 90 seconds. Set aside. 
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil until it begins to simmer and quickly add anchovies to taste. (The anchovies will lose their "fishiness," so it's really a matter of how punchy you want the umami-salt flavor they give the oil.) Once the anchovies have dissolved, remove the oil from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. 
  3. With the motor running, add the oil to the vegetable mixture in a steady stream. It should take on a creamy consistency and vibrant color. Once it's thick and completely smooth, add the sherry vinegar and give it a final blitz to combine. 
  4. Next, remove the mixture from the blender and pour it in a sealable container. (I like these large glass jars.)
  5. Allow the gazpacho to cool for at least 4 hours (though it will keep in the refrigerator for about a week). Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil and plenty of crusty bread. 

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By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's deputy food editor.

MORE FROM Ashlie D. Stevens

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