By Christine Medina
When the Andalusian sun is beating down, there are fewer things more refreshing than a bowl of chilled gazpacho. This cold soup, known widely as a representation of the simplicity of Spanish cuisine, is tomato-based and served most typically in the summer months. I particularly love gazpacho because it doesn’t require turning on the oven: a huge no-no when my house already feels like one all summer long!
Though its core ingredient is tomato, it’s also often combined with Italian green peppers, cucumber, garlic, bread, olive oil, and vinegar in its most popular form—though variations with watermelon, grapes, seafood, and/or Iberian ham exist. Think of it as a cold, liquid salad!
Gazpacho has a long and often disputed history. It’s argued whether the Moors or Romans are to thank for this culinary creation. The Moors, who occupied Spain and Portugal during the 8th-12th centuries introduced a soup made of water, garlic, bread and olive oil, but Romans were also known to have eaten a similar concoction with a dash of vinegar.
Nowadays, it’s a Spanish summer staple: lapped up at beach-side chiringuitos or ladled generously in Spanish households and beyond. As luck would have it, I have an Andalusian ex-host-mom who let me in on a few secrets to making an authentic Andaluz gazpacho.
Use only the highest-quality vine-ripened tomatoes. Grow them in your own garden or buy them from the local market. If they’re somehow lacking in flavor (which won’t happen with vine-ripened tomatoes!), add a few canned tomatoes for a flavor boost.
Always, always, always use sherry vinegar.
Make the gazpacho a few hours before serving and let it chill in the fridge to really let the flavors permeate the soup.
Now that you have the basics down, here are you main ingredients:
6 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 medium-size cucumber
1 Italian green pepper
2 cloves garlic (to taste)
1 small white onion
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (to taste)
1/2 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
4 cups ice water
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste )
Optional garnishes: diced cucumber, scallions, croutons, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
Wash, cut and core the tomatoes. Peel, wash and cut cucumber. Wash, cut and seed pepper. Chop onions, garlic and garnishes.
Puree all of the ingredients (except the garnishes!) in a blender. Chill for a few hours and serve cold. Serve with garnishes atop!
Have you ever tried gazpacho?
Christine Medina, is a freelance writer, aspiring photographer and expat. She writes at http://www.christineinspain.com/ about expat life, travel in Spain and around the world, and is a little obsessed with Spanish food and Spanish ‘abuelos’.