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Jeff & Linda's Kitchen of Diversity

Gazpacho 

gazpacho

We tend to think of gazpacho as a cold soup made with fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, garlic, sometimes bread crumbs, and seasoned with vinegar.   But, the two main ingredients of this “liquid salad” – tomatoes and bell peppers – were unavailable in Spain until after contact with the New World.  It turns out that this dish is not a recent invention.  Rather it extends much farther back into history, with some more ancient progenitors (for instance Ajo Blanco Gazpacho from Malaga) being made from garlic, almonds, bread, olive oil, vinegar, and salt) lacking these new ingredients. 

While some point to a Moorish origin for gazpacho, food historian Raymond Sokolov suggests that this dish may actually date back to the Roman Empire.  He notes that Romans enjoyed eating bread soaked in vinegar, and suggests that an ancient version of this dish may be described in the Book of Ruth: ''Come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.''  It should not be surprising that the word ‘gazpacho’ itself appears quite complex, and is likely a Spanish transliteration of an Arabic transliteration of the Greek ‘Γαζοφυλάκιον’ which refers to offerings put into the alms box in a church – in other words a large mix of a small items.

Soon after contact with the New World, older versions of gazpacho were adapted to include new vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers and it soon evolved into the crushed cold tomato soup / salad that we now associate with this name.  Yet, until relatively recently this dish was hardly known outside of Andalusia in the south of Spain.  Spanish cookbook authors Alicia Rios and Lourdes March point to Eugenia de Montijo, the nineteenth century wife of the French Emperor Napoleon III, as one of the people who helped spread this dish into the larger Spanish culture.  By the 1960s gazpacho had spread into the USA, where it briefly achieved fad status. 

We have elected to forgo use of dry bread crumbs in the following gazpacho, as we are not convinced that it is necessary.  Rather, we feel the essential components are dead-ripe vegetables just gathered from the garden which are  pureed with a good quality sherry vinegar.  Remember that the soup will taste much better once the individual flavors have melded – at least 4-6 hours.  Serves 6

 

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and quartered

1 ½ cups tomato juice

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

3 green onions, coarsely chopped

1 small to medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Put tomatoes in food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Add in remaining vegetables and process until smooth.  Put vegetable puree into a pitcher or bowl and mix in the vinegar, salt and pepper.  Adjust seasonings.  Cover and let chill overnight in the refrigerator.  Ladle into chilled bowls and serve cold.  If your food processor or blender is not large enough for the full batch, divide the ingredients into two equal lots, and process separately.

Use a top quality fresh-eating tomato such as German Red Strawberry, Speckled Roman, or Hillbilly, a Creole garlic like Burgundy, Red Marconi pepper, Crimson Forest onion, Armenian cucumber, and Giant of Italy parsley.

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