Gazpacho is a Spanish soup made from raw vegetables and consumed cold. A classic dish in Spanish cuisine, gazpacho originated in the Andalusian region south of Spain. It is often consumed during hot summers as it is quite refreshing and cool.
How to make gazpacho
The typical ingredients to make gazpacho are olive oil, vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, and bread. In Andalusia, gazpacho recipes often include stale bread, tomato, cucumber, capsicums, onion, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, water, and salt. In the north of Spain, gazpacho will often also have cumin and smoked sweet paprika. The soup is characterised by its intense red colour, which is achieved by using large amounts of very ripe tomatoes and capsicums.
To make gazpacho, the vegetables are washed, chopped, and pounded with a mortar and pestle (more modern recipes call for blending in a food processor). When the vegetables combine into a liquid, pasty emulsion, water, olive oil, vinegar, and salt are added to taste. Bread is then added to the soup before briefly blending again, leaving some texture to the soup. Finally, gazpacho is garnished with fresh capsicum, tomato, or capsicum slices.
A mortar and pestle is the preferred method for blending the vegetables, as it helps the soup retain its coolness and prevents the foamy consistency created by food processors and blenders. Traditionally, garlic cloves would first be pounded before being mixed with the soaked stale bread. Olive oil and salt is then added to make a paste. Finally, tomatoes and vinegar finish off the gazpacho mixture before being placed in an earthenware pot to keep cool.
How to garnish gazpacho
Gazpacho can be served on its own or with added garnishes for extra flavour. Common garnishes used include hard boiled eggs, chopped salmorejo ham, bits of orange, chopped green capsicum, onion, or cucumber, cumin crushed with mint, or chopped almonds. In Andalusia, the final gazpacho is served slightly chilled but not ice cold. Usually, gazpacho is served in a tall glass rather than the traditional soup bowl.
There are many variations of gazpacho – the most common type served in restaurants is Andalusian gazpacho. Variations in texture and ingredients will exist between different regions and even families. Here are some popular variations of gazpacho that can be found:
- Arranque roteño – This variation is from the town of Rota, where they did not have enough water to make gazpacho during the drought. Their recipe calls for less water and bread, making the gazpacho thicker and creamier than traditional gazpacho. Some people thicken the soup up so that it resembles a dip.
- Cojondongo – From the Extremadura region, this is another thick gazpacho variation. In this recipe, breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar are made into a puree before being topped with chopped onion, tomato, and capsicum.
- Gazpacho manchego – This variation from the La Mancha region is more of a meat stew than a cold soup. Instead of tomato, the main ingredients here are rabbit, hare, quail, or pigeon, with the addition of flat bread and occasionally mushrooms. The gazpacho is cooked in a cauldron and served hot instead of cool.
Other variations include white gazpacho, made with dried fruits instead of tomato, green gazpacho, which is the same as white but with the addition of green spices. Some gazpachos are also sweetened with strawberries and other fruits.