A cool start to summer meal

Gaz­pa­cho has pleased palates for cen­turies

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - ERIC AKIS

If you’re look­ing for a cool way to start a summer meal, make gaz­pa­cho. It’s a flavour­ful soup first blended in the An­dalu­sia re­gion of Spain, whose base in­gre­di­ents have evolved over the years.

When most think of gaz­pa­cho, some­thing tomato-based comes to mind. But the first ver­sions of gaz­pa­cho didn’t have a tomato back­drop. Ac­cord­ing to foods­from­spain.com, the tomato was brought to Spain from Mex­ico by Span­ish col­o­niz­ers. In the 18th cen­tury, the web­site says, it be­came well known when the first tomato sauce ap­peared.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ox­ford Com­pan­ion to Food, gaz­pa­cho is de­rived from a con­coc­tion Arabs pre­pared when they oc­cu­pied much of Spain from the eighth to 13th cen­turies. Sev­eral sources said the word gaz­pa­cho is of Ara­bic ori­gin and means “soaked bread.”

That makes sense, be­cause one of the soup’s key in­gre­di­ents is bread, of­ten stale and blended in a mor­tar with gar­lic, olive oil, vine­gar, salt and wa­ter.

That soup was not dis­sim­i­lar to those still en­joyed in Spain, such as sopa de ajo blanco. Vari­a­tions of this soup are of­ten re­ferred to as white gaz­pa­cho. Be­yond gar­lic and the other in­gre­di­ents listed above, such things as al­monds and green grapes are also added.

When toma­toes did make it to Spain, gaz­pa­chos in­cor­po­rat­ing them be­came more fash­ion­able. As with white gaz­pa­cho, there are many vari­a­tions of tomato-based gaz­pa­chos, with some be­ing very thin, some very thick and oth­ers some­where in be­tween.

Tomato Gaz­pa­cho

cool enough to han­dle, pull the skin off each tomato (they should slip off eas­ily). Cut each peeled tomato in half.

Set a strainer over a medium to large bowl. Work­ing over the strainer and bowl, gen­tly squeeze each tomato half to push and re­lease their seeds and juices.

Use a whisk to push any juices left in the strainer into the bowl below. Dis­card the seeds; set aside the juice in the bowl.

Coarsely chop the seeded toma­toes. In a food pro­ces­sor, work­ing in batches if needed, pulse the toma­toes, bell pep­per, cu­cum­ber, onion and gar­lic with the stock and bread crumbs un­til vegeta­bles are finely chopped.

Trans­fer the mix­ture to the bowl the fresh tomato juice is in. Stir in re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents. If you find the gaz­pa­cho too thick, thin with a lit­tle more stock. Cover and chill the gaz­pa­cho at least four hours, or up to one day.

When ready to serve, stir and then taste the gaz­pa­cho and ad­just sea­son­ings as needed. La­dle the gaz­pa­cho in chilled bowls and serve.

Note: To make bread crumbs, place 1 to 2 slices, de­pend­ing on size, of cubed or torn white bread in a food pro­ces­sor. Pulse un­til turned into bread crumbs.

White Gaz­pa­cho with Grapes and Al­monds

This white gaz­pa­cho is sur­rounded by in­gre­di­ents used to make it, such as al­monds, grapes, cu­cum­ber and gar­lic.

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