Did you know that gazpacho andaluz didn’t always contain tomato and bell peppers? The evolution (and the flavor!) of this chilled soup from Spain is what makes it so popular today
It is a fact universally acknowledged that the coolest soup for summer is gazpacho from Spain. But did you know that this Andalusian staple from Seville didn’t always contain tomato and bell peppers? The evolution (and the flavor!) of gazpacho is what makes it so popular today.
Talk of gazpacho is said to stretch as far back as the 7th century in Spain, although the origin of the name is disputed. On the one hand, it’s thought to have hailed from Greek, from a word roughly translated as ‘church collection’ and the bounty donated by the congregation. Or it could be linked to the pre-Roman word caspa, meaning fragments or flakes of bread. Both of these theories help explain the recipe behind gazpacho - country folk typically made it by blending raw vegetables together with garlic, breadcrumbs, extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar (Jerez Vinegar PDO). However, the gazpacho we most commonly recognize today wasn’t born until the 16th century in Seville. This city was on the route of re-entry for the Columbus discoveries and the new produce that they brought to Spain. Yep, you guessed it, this is where the tomatoes and bell peppers came in!
Over the centuries, gazpacho andaluz ingredients have become clearly defined as ripe tomatoes, cucumber, green bell pepper, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, extra virgin olive oil and a dash of Jerez vinegar. However, a touch of seasonal sweetness also works with this chilled summer soup, as you can see in these crowd-pleasing variations:
Gazpacho de sandía: in Spain, chilled watermelon is perfect for beating the summer heat and easy to blend in gazpacho, so it’s a match made in culinary heaven.
Gazpacho de melón: if you have a slightly sweeter tooth, some ripe melon in this recipe replaces the tomatoes completely, making a greenish soup that is topped with jamón serrano. Hello sweet and salty contrast!
Gazpacho de fresas: this twist - switching in strawberries this time - has made gazpacho such a hit that it features at Eleven Madison Park in NYC, as well as on the menus of other top chefs, such as José Pizarro.
Next time you’re looking for a refreshing summer dish, try your hand at a healthy cold soup that packs a punch of flavor.