Gazpacho… the ultimate Spanish summer soup

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I REMEMBER many years ago, being in Spain on holiday with friends in Ibiza. We were all still a little naïve and in awe of Spanish food, so were pretty limited in what we ordered in restaurants.

One evening, we were invited out to dinner in a traditional Spanish restaurant with some older acquaintances of our friends, who had apparently been holidaying abroad for years, so knew what to order.

At the restaurant, the acquaintance took over the ordering of food, choosing food for everyone, including a starter of gazpacho soup.

When our soup arrived, bearing in mind we were in the middle of July, we all took a taste and were a little surprised, but also intrigued, by the tangy bowl of ice cold tomato soup, filled with chopped vegetables.

However, our ‘sophisticated’ acquaintance was furious that our soup had hung around the kitchen so long it had gone cold.

Summoning the waiter, he complained bitterly about his cold soup, before being told that’s how it was served in Spain.

Everytime I order this delicious, chilled, refreshing Spanish classic, I see the look of severe embarrassment on the face of the acquaintance I’ve never encountered since.

Now, for me, a chilled, refreshing, and delicious, a bowl of gazpacho is a must during Spain’s sizzling summer months, particularly when I want to escape the midday sun.

As summer nears and temperatures begin to soar, Spaniards find a perfect respite from the heat in a chilly, refreshing bowl of gazpacho, either smooth and creamy, or rough and ready.

The Spanish idiom “de gazpacho no hay empacho” – means, “You can’t get enough of a good thing” – which epitomises their love for the cold tomato soup, widely considered one of the most delectable dishes in Spanish cuisine.

Here’s a foolproof recipe to make the perfect gazpacho soup, that will delight your palate, and of course, those of your friends and even your acquaintances.

GAZPACHO RECIPE (serves four to six):

INGREDIENTS:
1 thick slice of bread (most people don’t use the crust, I do)
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into quarters
1 kilo ripe plum tomatoes, quartered and hard white parts removed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons of olive oil
salt

METHOD:
Roast the bread in a frying pan without any oil, until the bread has dried, but has not browned yet.

Turn the bread around once. Mince the bread to breadcrumbs in a blender, set apart.

Cream the pepper in a blender or food processor. Then add the tomatoes, salt and garlic and cream. Mix in the oil, vinegar and breadcrumbs. Taste and add more salt if necessary, or add water if the soup is too creamy.

Poor into a serving bowl cover and let the soup chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

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