Salmorejo cordobés is a velvety and smooth Spanish cold tomato soup made to be served on a hot summers day. This rich and creamy soup can be eaten cold or at room temperature as a light meal, an appetizer or aperitif. Chilled salmorejo soup is a traditional Spanish recipe made with just a handful of fresh and good quality ingredients, such as ripe tomatoes, white bread, olive oil and garlic.
What is salmorejo cordobés?
Salmorejo soup is gaining popularity in Spain as it is appearing on the menu of more and more restaurants throughout the country. This chilled tomato soup finds its origin in Andalusia, in the southern part of Spain, more specifically in the city of Córdoba, hence its name salmorejo cordobés or cordovian salmorejo.
One of the reasons for its popularity is that salmorejo is fairly easy to make with just a few seasonal and local ingredients. It is also very refreshing during the warm and hot summer months and makes a good alternative for its more well known and popular cousin, gazpacho.
Apart from both being cold soups and originating from the southern part of Spain, there is however a difference between salmorejo and gazpacho.
Salmorejo vs gazpacho
Many people will have at least once heard of gazpacho soup, often referred to as a cold tomato soup from Spain. Gazpacho is at the moment still the more popular and well known cold Spanish soup, especially outside of Spain. But is there a difference between gazpacho and salmorejo? The simple answer is, yes, they both differ in texture, ingredients and taste.
Gazpacho is a cold vegetable soup made with tomatoes, but also onion, peppers, cucumbers, onion and garlic all mixed into a light vegetable soup. The consistency of gazpacho is often more liquid which makes it easy to serve as a refreshing drink in a glass, or even as a light appetizer in a bowl. So definitely try this authentic gazpacho recipe.
On the other hand, salmorejo is made only with tomatoes, bread, garlic and olive oil which is blended into a thicker and creamier consistency. It also features much more bread and olive oil compared to gazpacho which is what makes it so creamy. Salmorejo is usually served in a bowl with toppings such as sliced Spanish ham and hard boiled eggs.
In conclusion, both soups contain similar ingredients, both are served cold and both are very tasty but they are remarkably different in other ways.
Which ingredients to use
- Tomatoes: Use any tomatoes that are in season, ripe and full of flavour. However, the best tomatoes for salmorejo are Roma/plum or vine tomatoes. They are very meaty, filled with flavour and will give a great consistency and taste after blending.
- Olive oil: Use a good extra virgin olive oil as it is an important ingredient in this soup.
- Bread: In Andalusia they often use ‘pan de telera’ which is a white oval shaped bread. As an alternative you can use thin crusted white bread like any regular sandwich or toaster bread.
- Garlic: Adding a clove of garlic is key to making salmorejo, but as you will be using raw garlic don’t add too much in the beginning. Rather start with a small clove and add more after blending if you think the soup needs extra garlic. Use a young and fresh garlic clove if possible. If the garlic is older, try removing the inner germ by cutting the clove in half and taking out the inner sprout which might taste bitter.
- Vinegar: A teaspoon of vinegar is added to intensify and amplify the flavour of the soup. Traditionally a splash of good quality sherry vinegar is used (originating from Jerez de la Frontera, also in Andalusia), but if you have no sherry vinegar at home, feel free to use red or white wine vinegar as a good alternative.
- Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are finely chopped and added just before serving.
- Cured ham: Use any cured Spanish ham like Serrano or Iberico ham, finely sliced.
How to make salmorejo
Salmorejo has this typical smooth and velvety texture which is only obtained by discarding the seeds and the peel of the tomatoes. This can either be done before adding the tomatoes in the blender or after, of which the latter is my preferred way of making it. Both methods are described here below. Choose what works best for you.
- Prepare the tomatoes – Method 1 :
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Cut a shallow X shape at the bottom of each tomato and place gently in the boiling water. Let them boil for 20 seconds. Carefully remove the tomatoes from the boiling water with a spoon or soup ladle and start peeling them with a paring knife. The skin will come off quite easily. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove the seeds. Place in the blender and blend into a juice for 30 seconds.
- Prepare the tomatoes – Method 2 :
Remove the hard core and coarsely chop the tomatoes. Put them in a blender or food processor and blend on high for 30 seconds. Transfer the blended tomatoes to a fine mesh sieve and collect the juice in a separate bowl. Make sure to push all the tomato juice through the sieve and collect until only the seeds and skins remain. Pour the tomato juice back into the blender.
- Soak the bread:
Leave the bread to soak for a couple of minutes in the tomato liquid. It will help to soften the bread which will then mix better in the salmorejo.
- Mix all the ingredients:
Add the rest of the ingredients (garlic, salt and vinegar) and start blending at low speed, then slowly increase to a medium/high speed. While blending, slowly pour in the olive oil. Make sure to pour the olive oil slowly to give it time to emulsify while blending. Blend for a few minutes at medium to high speed until the soup gets a thicker and creamy consistency.
- Chill and serve:
Put the blended soup in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve cold with finely chopped hard-boiled eggs, sliced cured Spanish ham and a drizzle of olive oil.
Interesting tips & tricks
- Store salmorejo in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2, max. 3 days. When taking it out of the fridge, give it a good stir and serve immediately.
- Store the cold tomato soup without the toppings which will otherwise become soggy. Prepare the toppings in advance and store them separately in the fridge only adding them just before serving in separate bowls.
- Replace the white bread with a gluten-free alternative for a gluten-free salmorejo.
- To get the best consistency while blending make sure to very slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Definitely don’t add it all at once otherwise the oil will not get the chance to emulsify properly. You can compare it with making mayonnaise which uses the same method of adding oil.
Salmorejo is best served cold as a light lunch or as an appetizer. In Spanish restaurants you can often find it as a first course on a menu del día, and mainly during the summer months.
When serving salmerjo as a light meal add more toppings and serve with crusty bread. As an appetizer, just add fewer toppings and serve a smaller portion. Serving Spanish tomato bread to the side is always a great idea.
Salmorejo Cordobes – Spanish cold tomato soup
- 2 pounds (or 900 grams) ripe tomatoes cored and chopped
- 3 slices white bread
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- ⅓ cup (or 80 ml) olive oil best quality extra virgin
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 hard-boiled eggs finely chopped
- Serrano ham finely chopped
- Core and coarsly chop the tomatoes and put them in a blender. Blend thoroughly into a liquid purée for at least 30 seconds.
- Transfer the tomato purée in to a fine mesh sieve and push the liquid through ensuring the peel and seeds are left behind.
- Pour the tomato liquid back in to the blender and add the bread. Leave the bread to soak for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt and sherry vinegar and start mixing. First on low speed, then slowly move to medium/high speed. While blending, slowly pour in the olive oil and leave the machine running until the oil is fully emulsified and the soup has a creamy consistency. This takes about 3-5 minutes on medium speed.
- Place to cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Serve cold in small bowls and garnish with finely sliced Serrano ham and finely chopped hard-boiled eggs.
- Tomatoes: Roma / plum or vine tomatoes will give the best results. They are very meaty with a thin skin and have lots of flavour.
- Garlic: Depending on how strong the garlic is, start by using half a clove and add more after the soup is blended.
- Leftovers: Any leftover soup can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Serving Temperature: While you can serve this soup at room temperature it is best served chilled. Leave for at least 1 hour in the fridge before serving.