My journey to discover the best recipe !
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After tasting a few amazing summer soups out in restaurants ( a cold Spanish mango soup, and Indian spiced red pepper soup), we thought we’d try to make our own summer soups. Seeing as we’re living in Spain, we thought we should try a Spanish style recipe… starting with gazpacho !
I then came across this Hairy Bikers watermelon gazpacho recipe in an ebook that was on a flash sale (99p when I bought it!). I’ll show you the recipe next, but before I do that – if you’re interested in these ebooks, head over to the post on these flash sale ebooks as I found another one to show you too… one that will be interesting to use to re-create that Indian spiced soup too.)
This was attempt no. 2… read on
Spanish soups… Gazpacho vs. Salmorejo
Why oh why is everything such ajourney with me ! I start by wanting to make a simple soup and take it in all directions with fruits, soup styles, spices etc. It seems that so many other people have done the same thing though because the old traditional Spanish soups of gazpacho and salmorejo are getting a little lost underneath all the gorgeous variations. Still, there’s nothing wrong with a journey of discovery in the food world !
I even started a spreadsheet to record different recipes and see if there was a pattern. Recipes are cutting across both soups and it’s hard to tell if its meant to be a gazpacho or a salmorejo ! Even some Spanish restaurants I asked said their fruit soup was somewhere between the two.Both soups originate in the south of Spain ( Andalucian area ) and both are eaten cold, as summer soups. Both soups are based on ripe summer tomatoes… after that they start to differ.
So what’s the difference between these two soups?
The 4 main differences
- Gazpacho is the thinner soup, but shouldn’t be watery. Salmorejo thicker and creamy like.
- Gazpacho is traditionally drunk from a glass like any other drink – think V8 vegetable juice – you wouldn’t put that in a bowl would you ! Salmorejo from a bowl – like any other soup.
- Gazpacho is based on more than tomatoes – usually onion, pepper, cucumber too… and more. Salmorejo is traditionally just tomatoes but is thickened with stale bread and more olive oil to emulsify it and make it a silky and creamy ( hello hand blender !)
- Toppings for the soup can be a giveaway too – you might find diced peppers or cucumbers on a gazpacho, but traditionally it will be crumbled hard boiled egg and a nice thin slice of ham on top.
You’ll find quite a list of ingredients next for this soup. However, this started me on a journey to find a simpler one because I didn’t think the soup needed so much onion or celery ( Paul isn’t a fan of these raw in a dish either !) . So I discovered that actually , the basic ingredients for a great Spanish gazpacho are just…
Ripe tomatoes, pepper ( debated whether you can use red – should be green ), cucumber, spring onion ( or perhaps a sweetish yellow or red onion could substitute), a little garlic, salt, some white wine vinegar and olive oil.
Now, have a look at the recipe below and you’ll see how they added a few ingredients.
Since I made this I’ve been checking out so many recipes for gazpacho, fruit soup and salmorejo – the other ( maybe less famous ) Spanish soup. The proper salmorejo has stale bread added, the gazpacho doesn’t… but it does help to thicken the soup. So up to you to include it, but I’d say it’s not necessary.
The little kick of spice I would keep as that works well with the watermelon. I didn’t have basil so substituted mint – worked brilliantly.
Here’s the simple method.
Pop it all in a blender and blend, or in a jug or tall container like I did and hand blend ! That’s it. Best method ever and you get all those raw nutrients intact.
Kitchen tools I used
Blender – this is the one we use, and it’s mighty powerful but that’s because we like to have the best one that’s going to last us a lifetime ! You don’t need to spend that much, this one would work well too and has a blender jug to boot !
Micro grater – Not completely necessary, but we do like to make sure raw garlic doesn’t end up in little pieces in the soup. Rub the raw garlic clove on this, and it comes through like a nice paste. We keep our microplane stored with the knives now because we use it just as often as picking up a kitchen knife. You can get different size graters but I think the fine one we have is best for mincing garlic, lemon or ginger.
Large knife and Board – The less power your blender has, the more you should chop up your ingredients in the first place. We like to use the heel of a large chef knife, and big long lasting commercial style boards, and they’ve lasted us forever ! Using the right colour board for the right food is a pet nag of mine ! A small extra board is nice to have for just onions too !
Sieve – Muslin cloth – well I would have used a conical sieve or chinois to get it even smoother. But we came here with a suitcase each, so I brought a muslin cloth and it did the job. Having a muslin is so handy, every cook or chef has one. Although be careful here… I squeezed my soup a bit hard in the cloth and nearly tore it at one point. Also, the vegetables dyed it a nice orangey red in places – but now I have a nice summer tie-died looking cloth !
Hairy Bikers recipe… result no. 1
It was sooooo good, and just had a hint of watermelon. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t red though. We didn’t use it all so the next day I took the leftover soup and added more watermelon 🙂 It was a lovely consistency too, as half had been seived and half not.
- Take the watermelon pips out before you blend ! Honestly, they don’t blend and it’s hard to find them and pick them out later.
- After blending, I used a muslin cloth to seive the soup but you could leave it nice and thick if you prefer.
- If you want it more red, just add more watermelon.
- Taste your cucumber before you cut it ! After peeling that is. If it has a bitter taste don’t worry, just run a fork down the side 3 or 4 times and retaste – bitterness should have gone. I’ll write more about this but it’s a natural chemical that can be released sometimes from cucumbers and i found it for the first time with the Spanish pepito I used instead of the usual English cucumber – either are good in this recipe.
Day 2, add more watermelon
I prefer this one ! Paul preferred day 1. But we loved both and it was marginal. So just go ahead and play with this recipe, improvise and taste as you go. It’s pretty indistructable, and if you blend in small batches you can taste test as you go… just incase !
Next time, I’m going to make a simpler version of gazpacho then add some watermelon and chili…. or mango, beetroot, or strawberries ! I’ll update you here as I go. I’m also trying out different garam masala recipes and will make a red pepper soup with that.
Update… I made a simple peach one, and spied a green apple gazpacho on a local vegan restaurant menu… the journey continues and I’ll post the results and recipes as soon as I can. In the meantime…