Gazpacho, a cold vegetable soup, has conquered the world as a hearty, easily digestible starter or tapa.
In pre-Roman times gazpacho was made from stale bread, garlic, vinegar, oil and water. Later, farmers began to add vegetables to make it more substantial and satisfy hunger and thirst – in one go. This cold soup has plenty of water, vitamins and salt, a great snack for hot summer days.
Another two common Spanish soups as Ajo Blanco and Salmorejo.
Ajo Blanco has origins in the Al-Andalus cuisine, given that almonds are the main ingredient of the dish. It’s a popular Spanish cold soup typical from Granada and Málaga. It is often served with a ‘papa asá’, a baked potato – but it just as good on its own.
Salmorejo is similar to Gazpacho (also Spanish based vegetable soup) but thicker and often served with boiled egg chopped up and cured ham (Jamon Serrano) on top. It originates from Cordoba in Andalucía and is also eaten cold, as a starter or tapa.
Below you will find recipes for all 3 soups, enjoy!
“Gazpacho Andaluz” – The famous vegetable soup
2 – 3 slices of (preferably) white bread
500 gr of ripe tomatoes – peel them, remove seeds and dice into small pieces
1 cucumber – also peeled, seeded and diced
1 green pepper (‘pimiento verde’ in Spanish) – seeded and diced
3 – 4 cloves of garlic (‘dientes de ajo’ in Spanish) – peeled and diced
125 ml of olive oil
2 – 3 table spoons of wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
Garnish ingredients (optional)
Cubes of white bread
Small cubes of tomato
Green pepper, diced up small
Diced onion (‘cebolla’ in Spanish)
Cubes of ham
Hard-cooked egg, also diced up small
Diced avocado (‘aguacate’ in Spanish)
1) Break up (roughly with your hands) the white bread and place in a bowl.
2) In the same bowl, add water and leave to soak whilst you prepare the rest of your ingredients, approximately 30 minutes.
3) Peel your tomatoes and remove the seeds, do the same to the cucumber. Cut it all into large rough pieces. Then peel your garlic and dice roughly.
4) In a blender, put all your diced vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber and garlic). Then add the bread and olive oil and purée the whole mixture.
5) Add enough water to get the right consistency. To make sure your gazpacho is perfect you may want to use a sieve to filter your soup and leave any lumps and bumps behind. Season with salt and vinegar.
6) Place your gazpacho in the refrigerator for minimum 1 hour. Serve it very cold with your (optional) garnished in separate bowls, so each person can serve themselves individually.
“Ajo Blanco” – Cold garlic and almond soup
2 slices of toasted white Spanish bread
150 gr shelled almonds (‘almendras enteras’ in Spanish)
3 cloves of garlic – peeled
1 table spoon of salt
8 table spoons of olive oil
2 – 3 table spoons of sherry vinegar
250 gr of white (green) and seedless grapes
1) Soak the white bread in some water for a few minutes.
2) Purée the almonds and garlic, with some salt, and the drained bread in a blender.
3) Whilst you are blending, gradually add some olive oil. When you see the consistency of your mixture is thinning, add the vinegar.
4) Add some more water (depending on the consistency, you do not want it to be too thin). Season with salt and vinegar, and pass through a sieve to remove any lumps and bumps.
5) You’re ready to serve your soup. Cut your seedless grapes in halves and use them to garnish your soup. Enjoy!
“Salmorejo” – The thick gazpacho
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into 6 strips, (‘pimientos de piquillo’ peppers can be used)
4 slices of serrano ham, cut into fine strips (‘jamón serrano’ in Spanish)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 strand saffron (‘azafrán’ in Spanish)
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 table spoon sherry vinegar
1 quart ice-cold water
1) Put the salt, peeled garlic, cumin, pepper and saffron into the mortar and pound until you get a fine paste. Slowly add the oil so that it emulsifies and then the vinegar and a little cold water.
2) Blend the tomatoes in a blender or large bowl. When the tomato mixture is smooth, add the contents of the blender and mix well.
3) Once the base for the dish has been made, there are two ways of finishing it: one involves beating the remaining ingredients into the tomato mixture, once you have seasoned it.
4) The peppers and hard-boiled eggs are beaten in to form a paste, which is then liquefied to the desired consistency. The color may seem a little strange, but it is very tasty.
5) The alternative is to leave a thicker tomato mixture, which will be bright red in color and silky smooth with the dressing, and decorate it with strips of pepper and slices of hard boiled egg and then drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the dish.
Both alternatives are very traditional. If you want to turn it into a main-course dish, just add slices of boiled potatoes, chicken breast, etc. This dish is half way between a cold soup and a refreshing salad. Enjoy!