I’m on the island of Mallorca but will soon be heading to Spain’s southernmost mainland province, Andalusia. Home to the magnificent Moorish cities of Granada, Seville and Cordova, it’s also the epicenter of Sherry wine. But, another compelling reason to visit Andalusia is that it offers the best culinary experience for discerning foodies. While there are many Andalusian dishes I love, its cold soups are simply stunners.
An Andalusian gastronomic specialty, these cold soups come in several different colors. There’s probably not a traveler who has been to southern Spain during the summer that has not enjoyed a refreshing brilliant red gazpacho soup. Gazpacho is synonymous with Andalusia for many reasons. First, the temperatures of inland Andalusia pulsate during the summer at >100 degrees so a cold, light soup is the perfect choice. Secondly, Andalusia is the agricultural capital of Spain---it is where the country’s tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and garlic are grown. Home to millions of olive trees, Andalusia is also ground-zero for Spain’s olive oil. Sherry wine vinegar is also produced in the area. All of these are the ingredients of gazpacho.
Salmorejo looks super creamy but there is no cream
Gazpacho, however, is only one of the cold red soups Andalusia has to offer. A “cousin” of gazpacho, Salmorejo, is made using only tomatoes. It is thicker and creamier than gazpacho because of bread that is added. The way that the tomatoes, bread and olive oil emulsify make some think that there is cream in the soup, however, there is not. Salmorejo, is typically served in a bowl with a diced hard-boiled egg on top and small pieces of cured Spanish ham so it can easily be a meal in itself.
Gazpacho verde (aka green gazpacho) is a crowd pleaser
But, wait. There’s another relative of gazpacho that you must try. It’s called green gazpacho and here’s why: it’s made from green tomatoes (popular in Spain), green bell peppers, cucumber, spinach, parley, mint and avocado---along with the traditional onion, garlic, olive oil and sherry wine vinegar. Try it. You’ll like it!
Ajo blanco is yet another cold soup of Andalusia. While it literally translates to “white garlic soup,” this is not a vampire dish as there is very little garlic. In fact, it’s mostly Marcona almonds and it’s often made with the addition of a green apple and topped with green grapes. Ajo blanco is thought by some to be the original cold soup of Andalusia and the precursor for today's gazpacho (before tomatoes were bought from the New World).
Why not celebrate the first days of autumn by making a refreshing cold summer soup?