When I joined the SideChef team, I acquired a new name - Jonny Soup. Probably in part because my last name in Chinese means “soup”, also because I make soups a lot. Without noticing it, I became the resident “soup guy” on our culinary studio team. As such, it should come as no surprise that I'll be introducing you to a simple yet iconic Spanish soup - Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a tomato-based vegetable pureed soup served with heaps of olive oil.
If you've never tried a cold soup before, the idea of drinking ice-cold soup may seem a bit strange to you. That’s how I felt a couple of years ago when I first discovered this soup while living in Spain.
It was a hot summer afternoon. I was sitting in a cafe, in a plaza, trying to order some tapas. My Spanish was not very good at the time, and I had little knowledge of Spanish cuisine - ordering took a bit of guesswork. When I saw the word “ Gazpacho,” I loved the sound of it and had to get a bowl. When it came up, I was shocked. There was a bowl of soup, with ice cubes in it? I was a bit nervous to give it a try but found it immediately cool, sweet, and refreshing.
Gazpacho hails from Andalucia, the southern region of Spain. Throughout Seville, Granada, and Málaga, you can find gazpacho on nearly every corner. I have never seen another region that is this passionate about cold soups - there are multiple varieties of this style of cold soup, like salmorejo (tomato and garlic heavy) and ajoblanco (almond-based). What makes a gazpacho ‘authentic’ or ‘classic’, is the inclusion of cumin.
This recipe and soup is simple, but don't let that fool you - while easy to prepare, it's important to pay attention to your ingredients. For me, gazpacho is the kind of dish that you can only make in summer. As this is a raw, cold soup, and there is no heat involved in the preparation, the quality of the raw ingredients becomes crucial. You want ripe, juicy, sweet, and fragrant tomato flavors. Speaking from experience, the taste of the soup varies drastically from month to month, so my advice is to make it at the time when tomatoes hit their peak wherever you live. Because the ingredient list is so simple, make sure that all your ingredients are quality (not just the produce!). The quality of the bread and the olive oil can also really impact the flavor of this dish.
This is truly the perfect summer soup, and worth having a try! Serve al fresco, with your favorite Spanish wine, and picture yourself in a cafe, in a plaza, on a very hot day in Spain.