Spanish Gazpacho Soothes The Summer Heat

Spanish Gazpacho Soothes The Summer Heat

Spanish Gazpacho is a “must have” summer dish.  It’s Spanish, not Mexican, although it is based on Mexican ingredients like bell pepper (chile dulce) and tomatoes. Really good gazpacho depends on great tasting tomatoes, so I either grow tomatoes or buy them from local gardeners/growers.

If the tomatoes are not fully ripe, hold them in a cool place until they ripen fully.  Don’t put them in the refrigerator because  temperatures below 55°F kill the enzyme that is responsible for developing that special, unique tomato flavor.  If the tomatoes are fully ripe, you can go ahead and refrigerate them.

Andalucía is the land of traditional Spanish gazpacho
Andalucía is the land of traditional gazpacho

To make a good Spanish Gazpacho I think it helps to observe boundaries that are imposed by the terroir of Andalucia. Within these boundaries Gazpacho still has as many variations as there are Spaniards with opinions.

The terroir of Andalucí­a in Southern Spain, occupied by Arabs for 700 years, includes its climate, makeup of the soil and the naturalized products therein.  The region has a climate similar to northern Africa so of course the soup must be cold to help relieve the intense heat of the region.  Esencialmente Español, (essentially Spanish), are only those ingredients that are readily available in the Andalucia terroir: olive oil, wine vinegar, cucumbers, onion, bread and garlic.

However, the principal ingredients of the soup are Mexican: Tomato and Chile. These were naturalized into the terroir sometime in the early 1500’s by the Andalucians who by that time had learned to cultivate the Mexican tomatoes and Chiles (bell pepper or pimentón) that Christopher Columbus took back to Europe.

Spanish Gazpacho recipe makes bright, complex soup in a blender
Gazpacho recipe makes bright, complex soup in a blender

But keep in mind that Gazpacho is not Mexican, so out of bounds are cilantro, very hot chile and those ingredients which would normally be flagged as part of the Mexican flavor profiles. Gazpacho is a European/Arab take on Mexican ingredients.  Recipes that add Jalapeño and cilantro are confused and should think about calling their soup: “cold Mexican tomato soup.”

This recipe makes a complex, soothing and refreshing soup.  The taste is clear, with all the ingredients blending and not competing. I omit the strong onion flavor altogether.  I also omit the bread because I blend it A LOT, emulsifying the oil, to achieve  body and creaminess.

The olive oil is present in the taste, but it’s a background.

Spanish Gazpacho Recipe  Makes one quart

Recipe is adapted from the book: “Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage In Recipes”
Ingredients

2 lbs tomatoes,  diced.  This is 6 cups
1/4 lb bell pepper (I used red) diced.  This is 1 cup
1/4 lb cucumber, peeled and diced.  This is 3/4 cup
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 fl oz red wine vinegar
4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil, Spanish if possible
1 1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt

Method
1.  Wash all the fruits. I scrub them in a strong solution of salt water, then rinse them.
2. Just place all the ingredients in a blender and churn away until the puree is creamy.  So creamy in fact that it almost looks like a cream-based soup. You may have to do this in batches.
3.  Chill in the fridge for a day so that the flavors blend.
4.  And its ready. Very simple to make. Stir vigorously before serving and garnish with croutons and small cucumber dice.
¡Buen Provecho!

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