The Gazpacho of Spain

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Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a truly beautiful soup of Spain for serving ice-cold during the summer and it’s particularly refreshing if we’re lucky enough to have hot weather.

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The history

The origin of the word gazpacho is uncertain; some say it may be derived from the Mozarab word ‘caspa’, meaning ‘residue’ or ‘fragments’, possibly referring to the chopped vegetables or small chunks of bread that are added to the soup. Others have suggested it comes from the Hebrew word ‘gazaz,’ meaning again, to break into pieces.

One story about the origins of gazpacho was that it was introduced by Roman road builders who used a basic version consisting of bread, water, oil and garlic to not only keep cool, but also nourish themselves during the hot and demanding work. Obviously, this basic version did not contain the tomatoes or peppers that were to be added later. This would come after the conquest of the Americas.

Gazpacho can include: Old bread soaked in water beforehand, lots of good olive oil, vinegar, garlic and of course, mature red tomatoes, green peppers and a few peeled small Spanish cucumbers.

Peeled small Spanish cucumbers
Peeled small Spanish cucumbers

There are a lot of recommendations about peeling tomatoes before-hand, de-seeding, and sieving the vegetables, but it’s all down to personal taste. If you have the time and patience to do all the above then you will produce a smoother and more palatable gazpacho. I tend to leave the tomato skins and pips in and blend the lot. This is because I do not like to to spend all day preparing the dish and I enjoy the rougher texture of the blended vegetables. However, everyone must discover his or her own preferences.

Provided you use the same basic ingredients of mature tomatoes and good olive oil, then you will produce a marvellous liquid salad for those sweltering times of the year when solid foods become far less appetising.

Mature tomatoes and good olive oil
Mature tomatoes and good olive oil

Gazpacho is one of those raw food dishes that seemingly offer little when broken up into its separate parts, but combine them together in the correct proportions and you create something very special: A revitalising, isotonic drink, low in calories which is considered (quite rightly) to be liquid gold in the mid heat of an Andalusian summer.

Serving suggestion

Normally, gazpacho is only available during the months in which the vegetables are in season: From approximately May to October. The cold soup is best enjoyed during the hottest part of the day – around lunchtime. You will begin to notice your body flagging a little about this time, the summer heat has this effect on you, and so you will begin to think about somewhere shady to go and something cool to drink.

This is the Gazpacho Moment: You can ask for it in a bowl with a spoon, with toppings of chopped vegetables and croutons, or it can be drunk in a tall glass with ice.