A trip to Andalucía in the south of Spain will have you craving anything chilled you can find, while sipping a tinto in the shade.
When I lived in Málaga and traveled extensively throughout the south, I discovered a whole new world of food. I became a fast fan of grilled pulpo, gazpachuelo (a white fisherman's stew, not to be confused with gazpacho), fritura malagueña, salsa brava and sweet confections like bocaditos de nata and turrón. The list goes on...
Gazpacho, salmorejo, ajoblanco and porra antequerana are all exquisite chilled soups. But what's more interesting is where they got their start, thousands of years ago. Each evolved from a soup made from pieces of bread, combined with water, vinegar and sometimes garlic. And once tomatoes arrived in Spain from Latin America in the 16th century, gazpacho became a household delight, even among Spanish nobility.
Salmorejo is, in my opinion, the best chilled zoup in the gazpacho family, and is regarded as its richer, more suave cousin.
Here's my take on the Andalusian classic, in 1-2-3. It makes 3-4 servings, and is ready in under an hour, including chill time.
2-2.5 lbs tomatoes, cored and scored*
2.5 cups rustic white bread, crust removed (about demi- baguette sized)
1-3 garlic cloves, to your taste
2-3 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to your taste
Step 1: The Prep
On high, heat a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. In a large prep bowl, prepare an ice bath (1 cup ice + 3 cups water) on the counter near the pot.
Scald Tomatoes. Once the pot is boiling, add all tomatoes, and leave for 1-1.5 minutes. When the skin appears to be splitting a little, remove the tomatoes with a slotted or mesh spoon and place in the ice bath.
Peel Tomatoes. If you lightly rub the tomatoes, you should feel the skin has separated from the pulp. Pinch and peel the skin off in strips where you've scored it. No tools required.
Soak Bread. Soak bread in leftover hot water from the tomato pot, about 10-20 seconds until soaked and softened. Remove to a mesh sieve and squeeze out excess water.
Step 2: The Blend
Purée** all ingredients except olive oil. It should appear to be reddish-pink in color.
Check for taste and add salt, more sherry vinegar or garlic if desired.
With a blender on low to medium speed so not to splash, slowly stream the olive oil into the mixture to emulsify.*** It will become slightly more orange in color.
Step 3: The Chill
Pour into bowls and tightly cover and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes, until chilled.
Garnish & enjoy!
Let's Talk Garnish
Salmorejo is traditionally served in a bowl and garnished with hard-boiled egg and jamón serrano, a cured, aged Spanish ham. But, you should feel free to experiment and make it yours! Top the chilled soup with sweet dungeness crab, chopped scallop, light flaky white fish or gorgeous grilled prawns.
For a vegan-friendly garnish, opt for cold and crunchy green grapes, chopped marcona almonds and a drizzle of olive oil, or a meatier substitute, like shaved trumpet mushrooms and shallots, sautéd in a little olive oil.
N.B. It's naturally Vegan & can be Gluten-free
The soup is naturally vegan, and could be made gluten-free by using a Keto-friendly sliced white bread, crusts off (thanks to a friend for pointing out this easy substitute). Or if you're baking your own loaf, you can use a gluten-free baking flour which usually contains some combination of tapioca, garbanzo, coconut, potato, millet or rice flours.
Don't forget to tag & share your creations on Instagram #bekatarieats
*To core a tomato, remove the little hard stem from the top using a paring knife. To score a tomato, turn it upside down lightly score an X through the skin right across the tail.
**You can use an immersion blender, countertop blender or a food processor with the sabatier blade.
**Science is awesome! You're trying to add oil to a vinegar and water-based liquid, which typically does NOT mix. Blending rapidly while slowly streaming oil into the mixture causes emulsification, which allows the oil to mix with the water and vinegar and distribute evenly—and even attract water. You can also use this method when making vinaigrette for salads, or savory spreads like aioli.