What is the king of Spain’s summer recipes? Without a doubt, it’s gazpacho. Fortunately, it belongs to a family of wonderful relatives. As the tomatos start to ripen it is time to give some attention to all of them.
Ripe tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, white bread, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, water, salt and a touch of garlic; put them together in a bowl and all they need is a blender to turn them into a cold soup. These ingredients, and nothing more, are what go into traditional Andalusian gazpacho, a dish that, contrary to what it might seem, was popular only in the south of Spain until a few decades ago. In general, when people talk about gazpacho, they are usually referring to the red gazpacho from Seville, which uses tomatoes as the main ingredient. We can therefore trace this dish’s origins to the 17th century when the earliest references were made to the culinary adaptation of this vegetable, which made its way to Europe thanks to the Spanish conquest of American territories.
The freshness of gazpacho: Given the correct proportion of ingredients, gazpacho is a simple and quick recipe that need only chill for a few hours in the refrigerator to reach the desired temperature. It can be served as a first course, as an appetizer in a small glass, or as a refreshing mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. It captures the essence of culinary simplicity in the name of good health, thanks to its high levels of vitamins, The only fat found in this cold soup comes from its extra virgin olive oil. This health fat containing oleic acid however is beneficial for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. There are many restaurants here in Andalusia, where good gazpacho is considered a gastronomic jewel. As has become the norm in recent years, tradition has served as inspiration for the great chefs of Spanish avant-garde cuisine and gazpacho has been no exception.
The simplicity of salmorejo: Although gazpacho is currently one of the most recognizable Spanish dishes in the world, it’s only fair to note that Spanish cuisine includes a range of other equally appetizing and healthy cold soups. It’s also important to remember that the majority of cold Spanish soups are from Andalusia, due to its hot climate. One of these is salmorejo, a cold soup that shares some of the same ingredients as gazpacho, but that also asserts its own identity. It can be said that salmorejo and gazpacho are cousins. Both recipes include tomatoes, bread, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (best if it’s Sherry vinegar) and a clove of garlic. In the case of salmorejo, however, the final result is creamier and less acidic than gazpacho, and is served with small pieces of Ibérico or Serrano ham and hard-boiled egg.
The delicacy of ajo blanco: The third typically Andalusian cold soup is ajoblanco. If gazpacho is sentimentally connected to Seville and salmorejo to Córdoba, then ajoblanco is linked in its heart and soul to Málaga. With this soup we leave the red and orange colors behind, and move on to ivory, almost white tones. Ajoblanco is a cold soup made with raw almonds, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, a little bit of garlic, water and salt. It is traditionally accompanied by grapes or even small pieces of melon.
I prefer the ajoblanco, Miranda is adicted to gazpacho but due to its garlic we always eat both of the soups…..