Elisabeth's Gazpacho de Verano
You wouldn’t think this sophisticated iced refreshment - scarcely a soup at all - started life as a simple bread porridge, eaten hot in winter and cold in summer - a peasant dish, sturdy and nourishing, a way of making hard bread palatable, much like Italy’s panzanella and our own bread-pudding. In winter the traditional soaking liquid was a ladleful of boiling broth from the puchero (hot water would do if times were hard) with a little garlic for flavour. In summer, the bread was the soaked with cold water, with maybe a spoonful of diced tomato and mild onion for flavour. A touch of luxury might be a sprinkling of diced serrano ham, hardboiled egg, shredded bacalao. Its history - although the dish is still sometimes to be found in its original form in rural Andalusia - explains its modern incarnation as an iced tomato soup ln which the bread is of no great importance.
Makes about 1 1/2 litres, enough for 6
1k ripe tomatoes, scalded, skinned and chopped
1/4 mild Spanish onion, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
1-2 slices dry bread, crusts removed, roughly torn
2 tblpns olive oil
2 tblspns wine vinegar
Salt, pepper, sugar to taste
Put all the ingredients in the liquidiser with a litre of cold water and process thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning - you may need a little more vinegar or sugar. Store in the fridge till needed, though no longer than 3 days (it's inclined to ferment).
As a summer refresher, feel free to dilute it further. As a first course soup, serve well-chilled - no ice-cubes (they alter the taste). Hand small bowls of whatever you please in the way of finishing stirrings - diced cucumber, tomato, pepper, onion, hard-boiled egg, serrano ham, very small croutons crisped in olive oil.
Combine with...a paella, something hot and crisp such as bunuelos de queso, croquetas de jamon; a tortilla - most suitably the version prepared in Granada's gypsy quarter, the Sacromonte, which includes sweetbreads and brains and other variety meats I'm far too dainty to mention.