Gazpacho originates from the South of Spain, particularly the region of Andalusia, and it is a perfect summer soup, as its very refreshing, it takes very little time to make and the ingredients are all very common and found in most countries.
This cold soup made of raw, blended vegetables is widely eaten particularly during the hot summers, as it is refreshing and cool. In Andalusia, most gazpacho recipes typically include stale bread, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, water, and salt.
A Few Facts
The name gazpacho is of Arabic origin and meals ‘soaked bread.’ Note that 2 of the main ingredients, tomatoes and peppers, were not available until after the discovery of the New World.
Gazpacho is traditionally made in a mortar and the bread is ideal when it is about a week old. The bread and vegetable mixture is pounded to a paste, and then you begin to add the tomatoes, then the olive oil, and finally the vinegar, tasting all the time to make sure you’ve got it right. The tomatoes should always go through a sieve so there are no seeds in the finished dish.
Tradition has it that, before leaving on his first voyage, Christopher Columbus loaded up with barrels of this old mixture which had fed so many peoples. With the addition of the tomato from the Andes, what will later be called gazpacho, will gain an international reputation.
Gazpacho should be drunk slightly chilled, but not iced. There should no need to supplement it with a drink, unless you really want to savour it with a glass of dry sherry.
First Course or Main Course?
You will probably eat these cold soups as a first course, just as they have been served for about thirty years in the restaurants and private homes of the large cities in Andalusia. But it is interesting to know that it is still customary in village homes to have gazpacho after the first course, and before dessert. In this manner a usual summer lunch could be: chick pea stew, gazpacho and melon. Another delicious way to serve it would be with pescaito frito (fried fish).
Red, White and Green Gazpacho
Red gazpacho is basically a cold and uncooked vegetable soup. In its most concentrated form it is the salmorejo of Cordoba, a very thick creamy soup with no water init, which just adds tomato to the base. In Cordoba itself, it is served with hard boiled eggs, quartered or chopped and strips of ham.
The best known red gazpacho is the more liquid Sevillian type, where the original mixture is supplemented here with large quantities of tomato and smaller proportions of cucumber and green pepper. It is served garnished with green pepper, hard boiled egg, fried bread, onion, tomato and cucumber, everything being finely chopped.
White gazpacho is Málaga’s famous ajo blanco (white garlic) which, according to some people, dates back to Moorish times. It consists of pounding peeled almonds with cooking salt before crushing the basic elements into the mixture and then adding water to get the smoothness of a soup. At the beginning of summer, the flavour of garlic is sweetened with cubes of melon or apple and in September, with grapes.
Finally, less know but by no means less attractive is the green gazpacho from the Huelva region and the Sierra Morena where flavour is given by chopped herbs and green vegetables. In the first group, coriander, mint and parsley and basil can be combined or alone, while lettuce, green pepper and endive bring freshness and texture.