A cool start to summer meal
Gazpacho has pleased palates for centuries
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.
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.