Top Eats – Southern Spain’s cold soup traditions are nutritional treats for a warm climate.
Try Spain’s best known dish, Gazpacho when you travel down south. A simple appetizer from Andalucia, it is a classic of Spanish cooking which has gained popularity worldwide. However, this cold soup from Southern Spain has many variations with one of the most delicious being Salmorejo, which gives a tasty local twist to Gazpacho. Both are a truly refreshing and healthy pick me up for the hot days of summer, and can be made easily.
Read time: 10 min
Andalucian Cold Soups in a hot Climate
Spanish Cold soups have long been considered part of the menus in the Iberian peninsula due to the harsh summer climate, and have since ancient times been seen as an important way to hydrate as well as give nutrition to the body. The precursor to Gazpacho, was created in the Roman era, where they crushed almonds to provide a refreshing drink that was soon combined with garlic, salt, water and bread to make what was the cold soup, Ajoblanco, This is still favoured today in many southern Spanish restaurants and led to the development of both Gazpacho and Salmorejo.
What is Gazpacho?
Gazpacho itself (believed to be developed from the Roman idea during the Moorish time here in the south which lasted 700 years), is more like a liquid salad with many vegetable ingredients (garlic, olive oil, onions, cucumbers, peppers..), It has many variations with some even including melon or cantaloupe, Some parts of northern Spain, even, when the days get cold, offer a heated version. The etymology of the word Gazpacho is said to possibly come from the Latin word, caspas, which means pieces of bread.
Are there other cold soups in Southern Spain?
Summer is ending in Spain and it will be sad to see no more soaring temperatures, however, there is one dish that won’t depart off my table soon, the satisfying Andalucian appetizer, Salmorejo, cousin to the popular soup, Gazpacho.
Add to your Spanish cooking repertoire to include Salmorejo, you will not regret it. Salmorejo is creamy, rich and soul satisfying. Easy to make and a dish in its own right, Salmorejo’s rigid list of ingredients never change. All locally sourced of course, as Andalucia is still very agrarian, ripe skinned tomatoes, hunks of dense white bread, garlic, virgin olive oil and salt. Keep it simple, keep it fresh and you will never be disappointed with the result.
A bright orange in colour, it is much thicker than Gazpacho and is topped with shavings of Serrano ham and boiled egg. In some Andalucian cities, like Antequera, tuna is added as a garnish to make it a filling dish called “porra”.
How are Gazpacho and Salmorejo different?
Gazpacho has a much more tangy taste and is more liquid with the vegetables punctuating the texture. You can even have it offered to you in a glass, so drinkable is it.
Salmorejo, is pure cream tomato puree and the garnish only adds to add interest to that delightful smoothness.
Salmorejo, owing to the main bread ingredient, can often be a filling meal in itself.
There is a Spanish saying, “De gazpacho no hay empacho” meaning You can’t ever have too much gazpacho, or literally, “too much of a good thing”.
However once you taste Salmorejo, you will rewrite this saying to include it.
Taste buds humming, here is an easy Spanish recipe for this delicious Andalucian soup experience of Salmorejo.
Easy recipe for Spain’s famous Cold Soup
4 slices thick day old white baguette bread – crusts removed
2 pounds ripe tomatoes (.900 kg)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced into quarters
½ cup quality virgin olive oil (142 ml)
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar (71 ml)
Garnishes for your cold Spanish soup
½ cup chopped Serrano ham
1 hard boiled egg – chopped up
Preparation of Andalucia’s favourite soup
Remove the crusts from the bread slices and soak in water until softened
Cut a small “x” on the bottom of each tomato, blanch them in boiling water and remove to an ice bath (skin should come off easily now).
Quarter tomatoes and place with chopped garlic in blender. Drain bread, squeezing out excess water – add to blender. Process until smooth, the resulting paste should be thick and blended well. Blend in the sherry vinegar, season with salt.
Once mixed well, blend in olive oil a little at a time, refrigerate and garnish when serving.
ENJOY THIS TASTE OF SPAIN!