Soup is thought to have been one of the first dishes that man invented, back in prehistoric days. As soon as they had mastered heating water, generally by heating rocks up on a fire and then dropping them into water, it was only naturally that they should try cooking things in that hot water. Prehistoric man would have then found that they had created two dishes at once. Not only did they get the cooked vegetable or meat, but they also discovered that the water also took on the flavour of the ingredient that had been put in it.
Stews, broths and soups have been cooked throughout the world ever since. However, Spain, and many of the other warmer countries have their own unique version of soup which is served cold - an idea that would have only come about in the unique conditions of the South of Spain.
Andalusia is par excellence the autonomous community where cold soups are most produced and consumed, as this is where the majority of the Spanish cold soups were invented. It is not to wonder; the soaring temperatures that in summer can reach up to 46º C (115º F) combined with the agricultural field labor (which means working long hours under the sun) produced the need to find nourishment and refreshment at the same time.
Gazpacho, salmorejo and ajo blanco all have Moorish influence, cold soups were consumed long before the reconquest and ever after they when most of them were expelled from Spain, the tradition had already settled. Gazpacho and other cold soups spread throughout the country and even abroad, but it will be always Andalusia who can claim its creation.
Today, many of the soups have had a revival thanks to the growing popularity and expansion of creative cuisine in Spain. With the distinctive colours of many of these soups, Spanish chefs have made use of them to decorate their dishes and bring a bit of colour and flair to an otherwise plain dish. You can do the same at home and if you ever decide to start a Spanish course in Spain we recommend that you also take some Spanish cooking classes! There is no better souvenir than taking home actual true part of the Spanish culture, in this case, some authentic Spanish cooking skills.
But there are many other hot soups consumed during the colder months as well, though some of them resemble stews more than broth and they have been classified within Spanish Food as such. A lot of the hot stews and soups in Spain were therefore also created for a purpose. Instead of being refreshing and cold, they are warm and full of calories to make sure that people would have enough nutrients to sustain them throughout the cold winter days.
Alioli may perhaps be the most well known Spanish sauce. It may be made of simple ingredients but it is one of the most adaptable sauces around. It is often used as a dip or a sauce for all manner of dishes, including some of the famous paella dishes from Valencia. However it is also used within the recipe of other dishes to give them a creamy, garlic taste. There are many more Spanish sauces, but as they are only ever found as part of another Spanish dish, here at Spanish Food, we have decided to not give them their own page and so you will find them along with their respective dishes.
Nearly all of the soups and sauces you can find here on Spanish Food have been commercialised and can easily be found in cartons on the shelves of Spanish supermarkets. However, nothing beats a good home made soup, so why not try making your own!
Below is a list of links which will take you to our pages on some of the most popular Spanish soup and sauces. On these pages, you can find out more about the history and origins of the dishes, as well as find some quick and easy recipes to follow so that you can make some at home.