When I think of gazpacho, I think of a sort of cold tomato soup that features lots of fresh tomatoes and other vegetables. I don’t think about one specific soup because there are many types of gazpacho out there, from sweet to spicy, from chunky to smooth. Salmorejo is one type of gazpacho that is well known in the Andalucia region of Spain, specifically in and around Cordoba. Salmorejo stands apart from other gazpacho-types because it is very creamy, a texture that comes from a larger amount of olive oil than you might find in other gazpachos and from bread that is blended into the soup. The bread might sound like an odd ingredient, but as you process the soup in a food processor, you’ll see that it thickens the soup and also helps smooth it out.
I tried some salmorejo in Spain and couldn’t wait to try it out with some fresh tomatoes at home. This version of the soup is very easy to make and tastes delicious, with a lovely tangy, fruitiness coming from the fresh tomatoes and olive oil. I simply popped all of my ingredients into the bowl of my food processor and blended the heck out of them, stopping a few times to adjust the seasoning with some salt and pepper. I streamed in the olive oil last to make sure that the soup was as smooth as possible before adding it. Since I wanted this soup to be especially creamy, I strained it before chilling it to remove any tomato seeds or bits of tomato skin. This step can be skipped, but it really will give you the silky smooth texture that the soup is known for.
As always, with recipes that get a lot of their flavor from olive oil, choose a good quality olive oil. I used an extra virgin oil that had a really nice fruitiness to it. A good way to see if it will work well in the soup is to drizzle a little bit of oil on a piece of tomato and see if your oil is a good match (it probably is!). Don’t use an oil other than olive oil, or use an olive oil that you don’t like the flavor of when making this soup. And, of course, it should go without saying that you should choose high quality tomatoes for this recipe, too.
Serve the soup with pieces of ham or pancetta and chopped up hard boiled egg if you’re looking for some authentic garnish. Otherwise, some crisp, buttery croutons will be a nice finishing touch.
2 lbs tomatoes
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/2 red bell pepper
2 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine tomatoes, white bread, bell pepper, garlic, sugar and cayenne pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Whizz on high speed until mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Whizz again, and with the processor running, stream in your olive oil.
Taste the soup again and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Strain into a large bowl and chill for at least 3 hours, or until ready to serve.
Soup can be prepared a day in advance and stored in the fridge.