All soups are meant to be served piping hot, right? Wrong. There’s one exception to the rule – the mysteriously and extraordinarily special soup that must be consumed chilled or iced cold, even.
I only started to know about the existence of this cold soup in 1996, while dining in a Portuguese restaurant with my other half somewhere in Leuven. The dinner was something to remember as well. It was a “present” from hubby for my achieving A+ results in the Dutch language course. It was a cold Autumn night in October and we chanced upon a quaint looking Restaurant. We stepped inside and the friendly-looking waiter beckoned us to a table for two in a quiet corner near the warm radiator. What bliss!
While perusing the menu card, we both wanted to start with something truly mediterranean and warm. “Gaspacho” sounded immensely mediterranean and warm. (By the way, it’s Gaspacho in Portuguese and Gazpacho in Spanish. We happened to be in a Portuguese resto, hence, the “s” instead of “z“… )
And lo and behold… the soup was iced cold!!
I looked at hubby and he looked back. We were thinking the same thing. The chef forgot to heat the soup up! Hubby waved at the waiter and told him about our chilled soups. He smiled and politely replied, “Gazpacho is a soup made of raw vegetables and is always served cold”
Henceforth, that one embarrassing episode became the locus of my unwavering search for the culinary meaning of Gazpacho.
The Quest of the Perfect Gazpacho
Looking back almost 20 years when I first had that cold soup on a cold, chilly October, I vowed only to have Gazpacho during hot summers. I’m so glad the guys in my household love the cold puréed salad soup. I have bought ready-bottled gazpacho in our local supermarket but it’s just not the same when it’s fresh and home-made from scratch!
After 2 decades, I found the best tasting Gazpacho is still the traditional, tomato-based Andalusian version. Other versions may include avocado’s, yellow squash, carrot or courgette, but they don’t fit the bill! As a saying goes, ‘first impressions are the most lasting“.
Here’s how I made my Gazpacho enjoyed by my family during the hot temps we had recently.
This recipe is inspired by Oil & Vinegar, with changes adapted given by the availabilty of ingredients.
- 5 tomatoes, slit an ‘X’ at the bottom of each tomato
- 1 red bell pepper or capsicum or paprika, cubed
- 1 cucumber (I used 3/4 part, cubed and reserved 1/4 part, skinned and diced finely for garnishing)
- 1 onion, cubed or roughly chopped
- 2 pieces bread, crusts removed and roughly torn (sprayed and soaked with some balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar)
- 1 dl wine (I used white wine, iso of red)
- Cold drinking water (amount depends on how thick or thin you want your soup to be. Your call…)
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
- Freshly-milled black peppercorns, to taste
Make your own Garlic Oil –
Mix 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil with 2 fat cloves garlic, mashed with some coarse sea salt. Set aside
Skinned the 1/4 part cucumber and remove excess seeds, if any. Dice finely and refrigerate.
- Boil some water and steep the tomatoes for 20 to 25 seconds. Transfer to cold water and peel skin off the tomatoes. Once all done, cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove most of the seeds and roughly chop.
- Place all the chopped and cubed ingredients and the bread crumbs to a pot and purée or blend the mixture with an electric hand mixer
- As soon as you have reached the point where you’d say “Ah, that’s the texture I want“, then stop. It can be either chunky or smooth. I prefer the latter. Pour in the wine and season the soup to taste. Add more balsamic vinegar if you prefer your soup a bit more tangy (I don’t..)
- Add 2 Tbsp garlic oil and stir. Refrigerate for at least one hour
- Before serving, plate on individual bowl or any decorative glass and drizzle with the rest of the garlic oil and garnish with the cold diced cucumber
I served the soup as a starter – like tapas – with some Spanish bread sticks (Picos Camperos) and Bruschetta Italian herb mix dip. Muy buen!
If you love tomatoes, red paprikas, cucumbers, onions, garlics with a hint of “sour wine” (vinegar) and don’t mind at all sipping puréed salad cold, you will LOVE this soup! It’s a breeze to make and a blessing on a hot afternoon or warm evening. Simply refreshing and so light and healthy. I will definitely introduce this chilled soup to my family in Kuching real soon *wink*
This refreshing soup makes great starter on any hot day and perfect when you’re having a BBQ. For this, I’m linking up to Tea Time Treats with the July’s theme “BBQ Fodder’ hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers
Eat well, stay healthy, take care!