Gazpacho is a Spanish specialty, specifically from Andalusia. It is a cold soup composed of raw vegetables.
What is the origin of gazpacho?
The origins of gazpacho date back to the Middle Ages, when the south of Spain was part of the Islamic world. Served very cold and traditionally prepared in a mortar, it contains tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, garlic and stale bread, mixed with oil, and sherry vinegar. But the different ways to prepare gazpacho vary by region and some versions contain almonds but no tomato or pepper.
Gazpacho was a recipe originally prepared by poor Andalusian farmers. They would save leftover bread from the day prior to prepare a hearty soup. The bread was mixed with vinegar, dried fruit and garlic. Gazpacho at the time did not include tomato as the fruit did not arrive from the New World to Seville until the sixteenth century. This soup was therefore white. Only after the arrival of tomato did it become the cold red soup that we know today.
In the sixteenth century, the most popular gazpacho, called capon of galera consisted of bread, stale for at least a week and soaked in water, then placed in a sauce made of anchovy bones, garlic and vinegar seasoned with sugar and olive oil. Once the bread was soft, people would add various fruits and vegetables to taste. It is believed that capon of galera is the ancestor of Sicilian caponata.
Culinary historians believe that vinegar, mostly popularized by the Romans, could be the clue that would point to the origin of gazpacho.
We owe the emergence of gazpacho throughout Spain in the nineteenth century to Eugenie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III. As for the rest of the world, the soup was virtually unknown until the 1930s.
The origin of the word gazpacho is still unclear. Etymologists believe it comes from a Mozarabic (language spoken by the Hispano-Romans) term. Caspa, which means “residue” or “fragment” is probably an allusion to the stale bread and vegetable pieces on top.
Nothing like a good gazpacho for a concentration of flavors and freshness any time of the day!
- 3 lb tomatoes ripe, stemmed and seeded
- 1 small green bell pepper stemmed and seeded
- 1 small cucumber peeled and seeded
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ white onion or red onion (optional)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 3 oz. stale bread
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or salt
- Coarsely chop the tomatoes and peppers.
- Place all the ingredients in the blender.
- Mix well until all the ingredients are well crushed and until a creamy texture is obtained.
- Filter the mixed mixture using a fine colander to remove any seeds and skins and to obtain a fine and creamy texture.
- Place gazpacho for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator before serving.