We have my 14yo to thank for this recipe. Whilst "Mum, can we try making gazpacho this weekend" is not the usual thing to be uttered by a teenager, it's right on brand for Sam. He's a history and geography buff, and lately he's been delving into Spain and, specifically, the southern region of Andalusia.
Gazpacho is a chilled tomato soup which is a popular staple in the southern parts of Spain. It's a thin soup made with tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber.
Knowing my kid's passionate aversion to capsicum I suggested we make Salmorejo instead. Like its cousin, Gazpacho, Salmorejo is also Andalusian, tomato based, served chilled & just as refreshing on a hot day.
While some Salmorejo recipes call for the use of fresh tomatoes, I was keen to put our new bottled passata to the test. The end result was wildly successful - a bright, vibrant meal that had us scraping our bowls.
Try it on a hot day - I think Sydney has quite a few of those up its sleeve before giving way to Autumn. We assure you'll be delighted with the cooling, nourishing eating experience that Salmorejo delivers.
Prep Time: 15 mins, Cook Time: 40 mins
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 medium brown or white onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 bottle passata
2 cups stale bread - no crust, just the inside - cut into rough cubes. Baguette or similar is ideal
3 cups water
2 tbsp tomato powder dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water OR 1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp salt
Garnish: a small amount of cucumber, capsicum and celery, fine diced or cut into thin matchsticks
Drizzle olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a frypan over medium/medium-low heat and cook onions until softened and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook onions for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft. Add the crushed garlic and fry slowly for a further minute or two.
While the onion is cooking, place passata, bread cubes, tomato paste or powder paste, vinegar, thyme, water and the 2 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl. Leave to sit for 30 mins. If the bread absorbs all of the liquid, add a little more water.
When onions and garlic are cooked - i.e. lightly golden and soft - add them to the bowl with the passata mix and stir through briefly.
After the mixture has been sitting for half an hour (or up to 2 hours if you like) it's time to blend it. You can use a regular blender or stick blender for this. Blend until you have a smooth puree, adding the rest of that cup of olive oil while the blender is running to create a silky texture. If you find that the mixture is too thick (it should be thick for a soup, but you shouldn’t struggle to blend it), adjust the texture by adding up to 1 cup additional water, a small amount at a time, to adjust consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with salt and red wine vinegar if needed. Chill until ready to serve.
Prepare your garnishes: cut fresh veg of choice into matchsticks - or finely dice them if you prefer - then place in a bowl of iced water and pop them in the fridge until needed. This will ensure that they're super crunchy.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil. Top with veg stick garnish, or see below for other garnish ideas.
Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
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In Andalusia, Salmorejo is traditionally served with a hard-boiled egg and small pieces of jamon (Spanish cured ham). If you can't find jamon, any cured salty ham (parma, prosciutto etc) will go perfectly.
Another idea is to garnish with shards of manchego cheese. Other cheeses that would pair nicely are parmesan, cheddar or feta.
While this soup can be enjoyed as a meal or snack on its own, it would also be a great accompaniment to fresh oysters.