“When it’s hot, a cold shower is like vitamins” stated almost 9 year old Daphne in a very nonchalant manner. I thought the opposite was true – for a hot shower in cold weather, but I didn’t say so, preferring to enjoy the innocence of the remark. It was one of those evenings with a refreshing cool breeze thankfully. She said it completely out of the blue and without there having been some previous discussion on the matter.
For some (probably irrelevant) reason (that could be a vaguely subconscious gastronomic deviance), the calmness of my thoughts centered on gazpacho, the chilled Mediterranean soup from Spain – the home of the Tango is very inventive in quenching natural desires!
This Andalusian tomato soup was brought to Spain by the Mauritians (in the beginning it was like an Arabic soup with bread, oil, garlic and water) or possibly by the Romans (they used to add vinegar) and finally became famous in Seville, where it was made with dried bread and no tomatoes, which were added to the recipe in the 1700’s. Thus gazpacho had all the elements to follow the gourmet evolution.
There are various recipes with the same basic ingredients that play with the quantities of vegetables and bread. In the Salmorejo of Cordoba, they add Serrano ham and hard-boiled eggs (on the side). Many modernist versions of the soup exist as well. The name gazpacho has now become a generic term for cold soups even adding fruit and seafood.
This recipe remains close to the classical idea, by using less bread (which you can omit completely if liked). The result is a much lighter gazpacho for a first course, both cool and highlighting the fresh vegetables.
gazpacho: the chilled tomato soup of Andalucia
Preparation: About 15-20 minutes (without hurrying). Quick and easy recipe. Make a few hours earlier and place in the fridge, covered with cling film, to cool completely. For garnish, keep some of the vegetables and finely chop them before blending. Remember the soup should keep the texture of the ingredients and not be watery.
Ingredients (serves 6)
1k firm, ripe tomatoes, cleaned and quartered
1 cucumber, washed and cut into chunks
2 red peppers, cleaned, seeded (preferably) and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, cleaned and crushed
½ – 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
2½ -3 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch of Cayenne pepper (optional)
salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 slice of bread, crusts cut off, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
12 ice cubes
1 bowl or small plate of chopped, 1 -1 ½ cm size, mixed vegetables consisting of tomato, cucumber, red pepper and whole parsley leaves.
To prepare the soup: In a deep bowl, put all ingredients, salt and pepper and mix well. Put half the mix in the blender and blend until a smooth pulp is formed. Empty the blender in another bowl and repeat with the remaining mix, then add altogether. Taste and adjust seasoning and if soup is very thick, add a little cold water. Cover with cling film and chill in fridge for at least 6 hours.
Note: If the tomatoes are not ripe or red, add 2 tbsp tomato puree to the vegetables in the blender.
To serve: Fry the croutons in hot oil, turning until golden-brown. Tip firstly onto kitchen roll to drain, then into a bowl. Serve the gazpacho in a big soup bowl with a few of the finely chopped vegetables placed in the centre, or in individual bowls. Add 1-2 ice cubes to each one. Serve the croutons and the rest of the chopped vegetables separately.