Authentic Gazpacho: Andalusian cold soup, healthy & refreshing

 

Authentic Gazpacho

 

Time:         prep. 10 mins
                   cool. min 1 hr
Difficulty:  very easy
Yields:       for 2 people
Cost:          low
 

Authentic Gazpacho is a summer soup eaten cold and prepared purely with raw seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers; in fact, if we were to call it a liquid salad instead of a soup, we would not be committing any logical error.
Strong points: it requires no cooking, no special skills in the kitchen; low cost of ingredients and is certainly a good anti-waste solution, considering the use of stale bread and very ripe tomatoes.
Is that all? No, there is much more to gazpacho!


The health benefits of authentic gazpacho

Who better than the Andalusians (inhabitants of the well-known Spanish region), knows what it means to live with the atrocious summer temperatures (often over 45 degrees); and so who better than they could come up with an elixir, capable of giving the body what is lost with perspiratio insensibilis; and let’s face it, a little well-deserved freshness that never hurts.

Do you know the heat of Andalusia?

I live in the Algarve, south of Portugal, about 30 km from the border with southern Spain, and I can claim to know Andalusia well. My husband also, (mind you, don’t tell him I’ve revealed this to you) used to be a flamenco dancer! So we like the places, the food and the culture; much less the temperatures.
A place battered by the excessive heat of the summer months and elsewhere (in April this year it was 35 degrees), to such an extent that it is home to the largest concentrated solar power plant, operating even at night. This power station consists of a central tower (I swear, from afar it reminds the eye of Sauron – Lord of the Rings) which absorbs sunlight from dawn to dusk, thanks to some 2650 special mirrors, arranged on the ground in a specific manner; it is molten salt thermal storage technology.
This ingenious system provides electricity for 26,000 homes.
Solar energy is undoubtedly a good and enviable thing, nevertheless I am certain that the Andalusian inhabitants would have traded it in for 5 degrees less: although they can call on the help of the inestimable authentic gazpacho!

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The many benefits of gazpacho continue.
Thanks to its purely plant-based ingredients, it is rich in vitamins A and C; antioxidants; minerals; bio-active molecules; and dietary fiber.
Furthermore, according to a 2019 clinical study, drinking gazpacho habitually, helps fight colon cancer: this is due to the anti-cancer properties of its ingredients, suggesting precisely a synergistic activity between the various vegetable components[1].


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Another cross-sectional study from 2012, again points to the
synergy of the bio-active compounds in the ingredients as being responsible for reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure; this also applies to prevalence of hypertension in the population [2].
A further study instead focuses on the satiating effect of gazpacho[3]: thanks to the presence of high levels of micro-nutrients (mineral salts, vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.), it helps combat the obesity and overweight problem suffered by the population[4]. Here I would like to remind you that if you do not overdo the amount of evo oil, a bowl (or glass) of gazpacho can contain very few calories (approx 150kcal per portion).


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Returning to the main topic, i.e. the tormenting heat, although I am a proponent of the
“fight the heat with heat” concept, (it is a good thing to drink hot tea and/or soups during the hottest hours of the day), for me too, there is nothing more pleasurable in absorbing functional yet refreshing nutrients: just as only a good gazpacho can do.
A small clarification: as with all traditional recipes (romesco sauce, guacamole, falafel, hummus, etc.) there is no single formulation; each family has its own favorite recipe, made according to personal taste.
In the wake of what has just been written, the recipe I am sharing with you today starts ‘from the original’ version of my beautiful and funny friend Purificación (for friends only Puri) from Seville, to which I in turn have contributed ‘CHE’s elaboration‘: I am sure you will love it!

Ingredients for the authentic gazpacho

2 very ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/2 bell pepper (preferably green), or 1-2 Italian peppers
1-2 cloves of garlic
Half a slice of stale bread
100ml cold water (optional, depending on your preference)
2 tablespoons of evo oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or apple or Jerez vinegar
salt

to garnish

wholemeal bread croutons (please use your stale bread to make croutons)
¼ green or red pepper cut into tiny cubes
¼ red onion cut into small cubes
½ cucumber cut into small cubes

Directions

Nothing could be easier.
Wash the tomatoes, green pepper and cucumber very well: especially because if you cannot buy them organic, or from conscientious farmers, they may contain pesticide residues.

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Remove the seeds from the bell pepper and peel the cucumber.
Then dice them together with the tomatoes and stale bread to reduce the work of the food processor.
Combine all the ingredients inside the container of a food processor, except the evo oil and vinegar (we will add these at serving time, especially if your intention is to leave the gazpacho in the fridge for several hours).
Blend all until you get a smooth puree; if you wish, you can also strain the gazpacho through a colander to remove the seeds and skin from the tomatoes (needless to say, I never do this: I’ll never reduce the antioxidant content of my food on my own).
Adjust the salt.
Decide on the density: if you want to eat it as a soup, I recommend a higher density; otherwise, to offer the gazpacho as a drink/aperitif, you can add up to 100ml of cold water.
Pour the gazpacho into a large container and transfer it to the fridge to make it pleasantly refreshing.
When it is well chilled, add oil and vinegar, mix well and serve CHE’s authenticgazpacho in small glasses or bowls; garnish with bread croutons, tomato cubes, cucumber, red onion and peppers. It is not unusual to garnish gazpacho with a boiled egg, or slices of avocado, or any other ingredient your creativity suggests.

What to add or not to add in an authentic gazpacho

The extra ingredients. As pointed out earlier, there are several variations for a gazpacho that can be defined as traditional (the addition of sugar, or chilli, is always personal). In any case, although you can find trendy gazpacho in restaurants or bars in a thousand ways and versions (such as watermelon, or strawberry), Andalusians are decidedly neophilic (wary) of such novelties[4]. Or rather, although outside they can tolerate it in ‘various sauces’, at home they demand it as faithful as possible to its origins.
Then there are also those who like Puri, want to sweeten the acidity of their traditional gazpacho with a blended apple, along with other ingredients: I said it, traditional is a relative term

– Onion yes, onion no. Andalusians do not usually add onion to their gazpacho. Onions are only tolerated as a garnish. Chilli, on the other hand, although unusual, is still considered, often in the form of Tabasco.

– Is ice allowed? It is not advisable to add ice, which makes the gazpacho watery. If you want it well chilled, as it should be, prepare it in advance and keep it in the fridge for a few hours.

– Removing the seeds and skin from the tomatoes. It is not necessary to remove the seeds and skin from the tomatoes at the beginning, as many people advise; if you really want to give up the antioxidants that are particularly present in the skin of the tomatoes, you can easily remove them by passing the mixture through a sieve: as I said, like the Andalusians, I am not irritated by a few seeds or skins, on the contrary, I appreciate them precisely because they are proof of the richness of the nutrients present.

What color should an authentic gazpacho be?

I imagine that you instinctively associate it with a blood-red color… but prepare yourself for disappointment: it is pink, coral pink in fact, very pale.
A more saturated shade can only be achieved by using tomato juice, tomato puree or tomato paste; those of us who like things natural, on the other hand, will adore homemade gazpacho with its delicate nuances.

Enjoy your chilled authentic gazpacho and good revolution to all!

 

Bibliography
1- Campra, Pablo et al. “A whole-food approach to the in vitro assessment of the antitumor activity of gazpacho.” Food research international (Ottawa, Ont.) vol. 121 (2019): 441-452. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2018.11.058
2- Medina-Remón, A et al. “Gazpacho consumption is associated with lower blood pressure and reduced hypertension in a high cardiovascular risk cohort. Cross-sectional study of the PREDIMED trial.” Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD vol. 23,10 (2013): 944-52. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2012.07.008
3- Méndez, C.M.V.; Rodríguez, E.M.R.; Romero, C.D.; González, M.C.M.; Isasa, M.E.T. Comparison of the mineral and trace element concentrations between ‘gazpacho’ and the vegetables used in its elaboration. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 2008, 59, 660–670
4- Planes-Muñoz D, Frontela-Saseta C, Ros-Berruezo G, López-Nicolás R. Effect of Gazpacho, Hummus and Ajoblanco on Satiety and Appetite in Adult Humans: A Randomised Crossover Study. Foods. 2021; 10(3):606.
5- Domínguez, L., et al. “Food neophobia: Spanish case study related to new formulations based on traditional’gazpacho’.” XV International Symposium on Processing Tomato 1233. 2018.

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