Origin: Castilla La Mancha
Gazpachos Manchegos only shares its name with the cold soup gazpacho that is mainly consumed during the summer, as this is a mainly a game meat stew eaten with unleavened bread cakes. The only relation between the two is the the use of bread. While gazpacho is original from Andalusia, Gazpachos Manchegos originates in La Mancha, and in fact is mentioned in Don Quixote with one of its other names "galiano", however it is eaten in many areas, including the Spanish regions of Alicante and Valencia. There are also similar dishes which are eaten in other countries, including gaspacho oranais which is eaten in the North-West of Algeria. While the Andalusian gazpacho is singular, the Manchego one is plural. It was the shepherds of La Mancha that created this dish, and in fact galiano means "glen".
The most peculiar ingredient is the unleavened bread cake. Originally the plate for gazpachos manchegos was the actual cake, which is where the popular saying de los gazpachos se come hasta la cuchara y el plato "of gazpachos you even eat the spoon and the plate" comes from. If you would like to learn more sayings like this, we recommend you study Spanish abroad for a season.
Unleavened bread was the first type of bread that humanity ever knew and as such it was consumed for thousands of years; prepared with whole wheat flour, it was cooked on stones over the fire or directly on the embers.
In the past Gazpachos manchegos was left on the bread cake until the bread was soaked and the consistency resembled a tortilla. There's a variation which is called gazpacho pastor, from Cuenca, which is not allowed to soak, so it's more like a broth. However today the cake is more commonly incorporated into the stew.
Also back in the old days, people would often bake their own unleavened bread to use in this soup, and there can be no doubt that this is the best way to make this dish. However, in modern times, many Spanish supermarkets sell ready-made versions of the bread. So if you are in a rush you could always use these.
This delicious dish is not exactly the lightest of dishes, so some experts recommend taking a little exercise after you have eaten it. Nevertheless if you are a true Spanish food lover, gazpachos manchegos is a must. If you are doing a bit of traveling around Spain, why not see if you can taste the different varieties of the dish as well!
Ingredients (for four people):