When It’s Too Hot to Chew: Gazpacho

Cold Gazpacho Soup

Beauty shall be edible or nothing.

-Salvador Dalí

Maybe you think of soup as something to eat on a cold winter’s day, served in a mug you can cling to with cold hands. Or perhaps you think of soup as an accompaniment to a sandwich, something cooked in a single pot of simmering leftovers. Think again. There is a whole world of cold soups, just waiting for you to sink your spoon into them. Soup is a staple that defies categorization. It need not be relegated to an early course in a lengthy meal with multiple changes of silverware. Just as it can be heavenly on those cold days, accompanied by steaming bread, it can be absolutely elegant on a day when it’s so hot you need a bowl of something cold just to muster the energy to peel yourself off a piece of furniture (preferably not upholstered). Perhaps the most well-known of the cold soups is gazpacho, the tomato soup from Spain.

A Brief History of Gazpacho

Prior to its introduction to tomatoes in the 1800s, gazpacho lacked its festive, fiery red hue. Instead, it was a macerated mixture of bread, olive oil, garlic, and water. This early recipe has been attributed to the Romans, but it is likely that the Greeks and the Moors had something to do with the evolution of gazpacho. Today, culinary creatives create gazpacho of other colors, swapping out the crimson tomatoes for ingredients such as avocados, watermelon, or almonds. No matter what goes into it, the soul of gazpacho stays the same: a little something, cool and refreshing, to slake your hunger on a hot summer day.

Components of Gazpacho

The main ingredients of gazpacho are tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. To make gazpacho, just blend together these main ingredients and filter out the solids. Add a little cold water to water it down to a slurpable soup, and you’ve got gazpacho. Tweak it with salt and pepper and call it good.

Adding Variety – and Spice

If you want to make your gazpacho a little more interesting, open up your spice cabinet. Some people add a dash of tabasco, or Worcestershire, or cumin. Lessen the vinegar, squeeze in some citrus, and see how the flavor changes. Or step outside for a visit to your herb garden. Gather some basil, parsley, chives, and/or mint; throw those into the mix. How’s it tasting now?

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about gazpacho is the variety it can have. Just as no two tomatoes are exactly the same – nor should they be – no two gazpachos are exactly alike. Food tastes the best when it is prepared from the heart, and when you prepare food from the heart, the recipe isn’t printed anywhere. It’s in that intuitive tug toward this spice and not that one, this herb but only if you add this and this, too. Good gazpacho is served cold, having been prepared with the warmest of feelings.

There is a slew of variations on the traditional gazpacho that have made it into the mouths of foodies worldwide. My favorite is a slightly spicy gazpacho, with a smooth base and a portion of the vegetables diced in perfect quarter-inch cubes.

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