Gazpacho may be one of the best known Spanish dishes. It originates from the South of Spain, particularly the region of Andalusia. Some historians believe that this autonomous community's rich cold soup tradition comes has its basis in the extremely hot summer weather, when peasants had to harvest for hours under the harsh sun, they needed food rich in water and salts to sustain themselves and keep well hydrated.
During the times when the Moors were established in half of the country, there was a similar cold soup, the ajo blanco, which is still consumed nowadays. The earliest reference of the Gazpacho is from the beginning of 15th century, however it has only a very slight relation to the soup as we know it today (let's remember that tomatoes were brought to Europe from South America, which wasn't discovered until the end of that century). However it has evolved with time like many other traditional dishes from Spain.
What is certain is that Gazpacho first began in poor peasant classes, until it gradually spread throughout the country and social classes, and is a vestige of the Moor heritage of Andalusia.
Now there are many kinds of Gazpacho, the mentioned ajo blanco, Salmorejo (you'll have to taste it if you visit Cordoba). Chefs get more and more creative, inventing varieties of this popular could soup, which is now one of the Spanish cuisine's stars. There's even a fruit gazpacho! Though the most popular is the old style Gazpacho Andaluz. Today, although many people still make it at home, gazpacho is easily found in the Spanish supermarkets where it is sold in cartons like those used for orange juice. These are a quick and easy alternative, but nothing beats home cooking!
Some of the regional varieties of this cold Spanish soup include the arranque from the town of Rota in the province of Cádiz. Here there were often droughts in the past which meant that there wasn't enough water to make gazpacho. Therefore the arranque require less and water and bread, meaning that the end product is much more creamy. Meanwhile, in the Spanish region of Extremadura, they make gazpachos with breadcrumbs, garlic, oil and vinegar, topped with onions, tomatoes and peppers. These are called cojondongos and tend to be thicker than normal gazpacho.
Gazpacho is a perfect summer soup, as its very refreshing, it takes very little time to make and the ingredients are all very common and found in most countries. It is also one of those dishes that is considered to be typically Spanish so is a perfect dish to serve at a Spanish themed dinner. The recipe for gazpacho andaluz, the most common and the most popular version of this dish can be found below:
Preparation (preparation time 15 minutes):
Gazpacho must be served cold, so it's advisable to refrigerate for as long as necessary until it reaches the desired temperature. If you are in a hurry to serve your gazpacho but have not had enough time to chill it, you can always cheat a little by adding some ice cubes to the soup to chill it quickly. However, the best Gazpacho andaluz is made in its source of origin, Andalusia.