Spanish gazpacho is a chilled vegetable soup prepared with very fresh and raw ingredients which are then blended into a delicious soup. Originating from the southern part of Spain, hence the name gazpacho Andaluz or Andalucian gazpacho, it is now widely served and eaten all over the Iberian Peninsula. This refreshing Spanish soup is mainly eaten during the hot summer months as an appetizer, first course or light meal all on its own.
Traditional gazpacho dates back to pre-Roman times when stale bread, garlic, vinegar, oil and water were blended into a cold soup. At a later stage, vegetables were added to make it more filling and to provide the ability to eat and drink at the same time during a long working day in the fields. Tomatoes were added after the discovery of the Americas which were then brought to cultivate in Spain.
Nowadays, there isn’t just one classic gazpacho recipe as each household tends to have their own recipe of how to make gazpacho. However, the basic key ingredients remain the same in most of the different recipes for gazpacho; olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, garlic and bread.
There are even various ways of serving or eating gazpacho. You can drink it from a glass as a refreshing vegetable drink or eat it out of a bowl. Traditionally it is served with a variety of toppings ranging from diced tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onions and croutons served alongside the gazpacho so each person can add their favourite topping to this cold tomato soup.
Which ingredients to use
- Tomatoes are the core ingredient of a good traditional gazpacho recipe. Roma tomatoes (also known as plum tomatoes) or vine tomatoes have deep but balanced flavours, that is, not too sweet nor too acidic. Core the tomatoes before blending but you can leave the peel on.
- Olive oil: Using a good quality extra virgin olive oil is key to a great tasting gazpacho recipe, although the exact amount to add can vary according to personal taste.
- Garlic provides a lovely tart, tangy taste which is typical for Spain. Since raw garlic is used in this recipe it can taste very strong, so rather start by adding just half a clove, taste after blending and only add more if you like. Just don’t leave the garlic out all together, because remember, Spanish people love garlic and the taste of a traditional gazpacho needs to be pungent.
- Cucumber: I prefer English cucumber as it is more juicy but milder in taste. Use either with or without the peel according to personal preference.
- Onion: Use either red or white onion for blending in the soup. A whole small or half a larger onion will do. But for the garnish I would preferably use red onion as they are milder in taste, and they look that much nicer on top of the gazpacho.
- Pepper: Use either a red bell pepper or a long Italian green pepper. I prefer the red pepper for its sweetness. Remove the stem and seeds before using. No need to peel.
- Vinegar is added to lift up the freshness of the gazpacho. Tradionally a good quality sherry vinegar is used for optimal taste. As a substitute, red or white wine vinegar can also be used. Just don’t use standard white grape vinegar as the taste is way too strong.
- Bread: A slice of leftover or stale white bread is added for texture and to thicken the soup. Preferably remove the crust for a smoother texture. Soak the bread a couple of minutes in some water to soften it before blending. Omit the bread for a gluten-free version.
- Spices: Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste together with a hint of pimentón or smoked paprika powder. In some gazpacho recipes a pinch of cumin is added which provides some earthy notes to the cold soup.
How to make gazpacho Andaluz
Making authentic Andalusian gazpacho is really easy and considering there is no cooking involved it doesn’t take a lot of time. Since the soup is best served cold it needs to be refrigerated first for an hour or two, so I would make a slightly larger batch in order to have a healthy and refreshing drink or appetizer at any time over the next few hot days. All you need to make this delicious soup is a good blender/food processor or immersion hand mixer.
- Soak the bread: Leave the bread to soak in some water while preparing the other ingredients. After soaking, squeeze out the water with your hands before adding to the blender.
- Prepare all the ingredients: Wash the vegetables well in cold running water. Remove the stems and seeds from the pepper, core the tomato and peel the onion and garlic. The peeling of the cucumber is optional. Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper and cucumber and combine in the blender. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika and/or cumin, sherry vinegar, olive oil and the pre-soaked bread.
- Blend the soup: Give the soup a good blend on high speed until you reach a smooth consistency and texture. Add more olive oil if the soup is too thick and add a bit more bread if the soup is too liquid, as to your liking. For an even smoother consistency, strain the soup through a mesh or chinois strainer.
- Chill the soup: After adding more seasoning to taste, refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Garnish and serve: Serve cold with the different garnishes in small bowls to the side.
Gazpacho can be served with or without extra toppings but it tastes so much nicer with, especially when serving as a first course or light meal. Add any of these toppings or a combination thereof:
- Vegetables: Finely dice red onion, tomatoes, green or red pepper and cucumber. Serve each one in a different small bowl to the side. Remove the seeds before chopping. Make sure all the vegetables are chopped small and similar in size for a better balance in taste.
- Homemade croutons
- Hard boiled egg: Roughly chopped.
- Spanish cured ham: Chopped.
- Olive oil: Drizzle some extra olive oil over the soup before serving.
Frequently asked questions & tips
There is no need to peel the tomatoes as they will get blended and you won’t notice the skin anymore, hence the reason to give it all a good go in the blender. Also, tomato peels contain a lot of carotenoids which is good for any healthy diet.
You can store gazpacho in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Yes, it is. But I can assure you that it is highly likely you will have finished it before you get the chance to freeze anything as it is that good. But in the event you do need to freeze some of it for whatever reason you can store it in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Leave to thaw overnight in the fridge and use the next day.
You can always heat gazpacho soup and eat it warm, but I would rather just make a proper vegetable or tomato based soup. Gazpacho is traditionally a cold soup made with raw ingredients and is best eaten chilled which is when its flavours will be at their best.
Gazpacho is usually eaten in Spain during the hot Summer months as a refreshing appetizer, first course or light meal. Not only because the soup is eaten chilled, but also because the vegetables are the freshest and have the best flavour during these months.
- Appetizer: Gazpacho can be served as an appetizer or as a starter before a main meal. You will often see it on a menu del dìa during the Summer months all over Spain. Serve the soup in a small glass or little bowl. It is perfect to serve as an appetizer as it can be made in advance and served directly from the fridge. When gazpacho is served in a glass or small bowl, don’t add too much garnish as it will be difficult to drink.
- Light meal: Serve the soup in a larger bowl with different toppings to the side so everyone can chose what to add. Apart from the finely diced onion, tomato, pepper and cucumber, you can add croutons, Spanish cured ham or hard boiled eggs as garnish.
- Drink: Andalusian gazpacho is perfect as a chilled vegetable drink. When thirsty or a little peckish, just have a sip of gazpacho which is refreshing, filling and healthy all at the same time. So, it’s always good to have a jar of homemade gazpacho in the fridge during the warm summer months.
Spanish gazpacho recipe
- 3 cups (1.5 lbs. / 650 grams) ripe Roma tomatoes cored
- ½ (5 inches) English cucumber peeled
- 1 small onion
- 1 red bell pepper cored and de-seeded
- 1 slice stale white bread
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 4 teaspoons sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or pimentón
- ⅓ teaspoon ground cumin
- Red onion finely diced
- English cucumber seeded and finely diced
- Roma tomato cored, seeded and finely diced
- Soak the bread in some water for a couple of minutes.
- Wash the vegetables well. Roughly chop the onion, tomato, cucumber and pepper and combine them in a blender or food processor together with the garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika powder and cumin.
- Take the bread, squeeze out most of the water with your hands then add it to the blender. Pour in the olive oil and vinegar.
- Blend all the ingredients at high speed until smooth or the desired consistency is achieved. Add extra water if the soup is too thick or more bread if the soup is too liquid and give a few more pulses until all is pureed well.
- Add extra seasoning to taste then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours. Serve as cold as possible with the finely chopped toppings to the side.
- Garnish: Add the finely diced toppings to the cold soup at the last moment so they remain nice and crunchy. Better even to serve in small bowls on the side so everyone can add what they like.
- Refrigerate: Not only to chill the soup but also so the flavours can further develop. Give the soup a last stir after taking it out of the fridge and before serving.