Cold Summer Soup: Gazpacho.
Origins of Gazpacho
Summer is upon us and we are all tired and thirsty. Perhaps the word "soup" is not the first thing you would think of! But here, in Andalusia, soup is what the natives have been having in summer for centuries ......and as we know, the natives of any territory are usually right!
Location of Andalucía, southern Spain.
Introduction of the tomato from the Americas
The Spanish Empire expanded to the New World in the late 15th Century. Many wonderful new fruits and plants were brought back and introduced firstly toSpain and then to Europe at this time. The humble tomato was one of these new exotic fruits. Thus the tomato became one of the fundamental ingredients of the modest 'gazpacho'. Also, during the same period, cucumbers and other foods and spices were being introduced from India.
So it was after the discovery of the Americas, and the introduction of the tomato that the simple gazpacho evolved into what we know it as today. In Andalusia it has always been considered an economic dish due to the great abundance of the ingredients in the Andalusia countryside which renders it low-cost yet healthy.
Reaping the harvest under the sun
Origins of 'gazpacho'
For centuries Andalusian farm labourers have been be working beneath the scorching Andalusian sun. 500 years ago the word "gazpacho" was used to described a type of emulsion made from the mashing up or pounding of what was easy at hand in the Andalusian countryside. The process would have been done using a mortar and pestle. What else other that pure olive oil, garlic, vinegar and stale bread? This was a nutrtious and also refreshing snack and was deemed so important for the labourers that a "gazpachero" (gazpacho maker) was employed as part of the gang to make the concoction when necessary.
The etymological history of the word holds several theories about the orign of the word 'gazpacho'. Andalusia was the home to Arabs, Mozarabs and Jews for centuries. It was during these yeas that the word 'gazpacho' appeared as a term to describe the pounding of ingredients such as garlic and oil (to make an 'emulsion' and the gradual adding of others. One theory suggests 'gazpacho' originates from the the Mozarab word 'caspa' denoting 'what is left over'. This may have referred to the use of 'left-over' garlic and oil used in the making of gazpacho. Another theory point out the similarity of 'gazpacho' with with the Hebrew word "gazaz" meaning to 'break into small bits', referring to the actual process of pounding the garlic and other ingredients together to form the 'soup'.
A taste of summer
Viva el rey! Viva el gazpacho!
In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the health benefits of Mediterranean diet. Even in Spain itself, the humble gazpacho, the poor man's dish, has become more fashionable and was, for the first time, served at a reception given by the King and Queen of Spain at the Palacio de la Zarzuela in Madrid in June, 2013. See the King and Queen of Spain offering gazpacho to guests at the Palacio de la Moncloa. Click here to see the photgraph of the meal in the Kings private dining room. The gazpacho was even served in traditional rustic wooden bowls!
There are dozens of different recipes for gazpacho in Andalusia, much as there are for making Yorkshire puddings in Yorkshire! In the old days, each Spanish housewife or cook would learn a recipe handed down from their grandmother or aunt and incorporate into their own kitchen. Recipes have always been handed down through families and the gazpacho recipe is no exception.
There are lots of variants to the recipe. Some people add carrots, green peppers, red peppers, or onion. Add what you fancy!
I learned the recipe below from my Spanish mother-in-law, Ana María Fernández, from Málaga, who has been making gazpacho for many of her 83 years of life and has taught me all I know about Spanish cooking.! She swears by the quality of the tomatoes and top quality olive oil!
The measures and quantities used below are VERY approximate. Ana María has never been able to say exactly how many of this or how much of thatin any of her recipes. I have mainly just learned by watching her make them and writing them down as she goes!
No cooking ....just quick blending
- 8 ripe tomatoes
- 150 ml olive oil, virgin extra
- 3 slices stale bread
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 tabelspoon vinegar
- Soak the bread in water for twenty minutes.
- Peel the tomatoes, cucumber and garlic. Chop roughly and add to food blender.
- Add the oil, vinegar and salt.
- Blend all ingredients for several minutes. Check for seasoning. If soup is too thick, add a little water and briefly blend again.
- Serve as starter/first course or as a refereshing summer snack.
Top quality olve oil
Much easier than in the past!
|Serving size: 200ml serving|
|Calories from Fat||198|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 22 g||34%|
|Carbohydrates 38 g||13%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Olive oil is GOOD for you!
Due to the quantity of olive oil in gazpacho, the calorific value may seem quite high. However, because extra virgin olive oil is high in unsaturated fats, which are the "healthy" fats, they are highly benficial to health. See the Mayoclinic.com website for an exhaustive analysis of the benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet in general.
If I can do it so can you.
The old fashioned way!!
Still not convinced about a 'cold' soup?
Enjoy the refreshing taste of gazpacho knowing that you are taking in all the benefits of the widely-acclaimed Mediterranean diet. If you still are not convinced to give it a go, then just see the 6 reasons why I love gazpacho:
- Easy to make!
Does the term "cold soup" put you off eating or making gazpacho?
Other variations of the basic gazpacho recipe:
- Ajo Blanco.
All these cold soups are based on the pounding of ingredients and gradual incorporation of other ingredients. Watch out for more information on these variation in my next article.