The History of Gazpacho – And Why It Makes Sense To Eat Cold Soup

By Abi King | Europe

Aug 10

Gazpacho: Perfect in the Heat

Before I travelled through the crushing heat of southern Spain, I never saw the attraction of cold soup. In Tanzania I ate fresh pineapple, in Brazil I drank coconut juice and at home in Britain, I drank a nice hot cup of tea. But Andalucia has embraced the tomato and created a dish that’s perfect for its parched plains.

The History of Gazpacho

Gazpacho, like pizza, had humble beginnings. Although the Romans and Moors used to pound together bread, vinegar, olive oil and garlic, gazpacho as we now know it developed in the kitchens of country workers in the sixteenth century. Perhaps dazzled by this strange fruit from the newly discovered Americas, they threw tomatoes into the vinegar-soaked emulsion, plus whatever else happened to be lying around…peppers, cucumber or Iberian ham.

I actually had my first taste in Toulouse, courtesy of a Spaniard from Córdoba, who told me that in his hometown gazpacho takes the name of salmorejo. From Andalusian homes to the top tables of experimental cuisine, gazpacho today reappears in a variety of guises. Reinventions use lobster as a base, or add strawberry, melon, cherry or piments.

gazpachoFor me, though, I found my favourite gazpacho in the midday sun at Segovia, a stunningly attractive Spanish town where even the stone buildings wilt with the heat. It arrived, a dose of cooling, nutritious refreshment, with a selection of ingredients in tiny dishes at the side: crunchy onions, croutons, cucumber, gherkins. Everything I needed to adapt the dish to suit my own, sun-drenched tastes.

The Simplest Gazpacho Recipe – serves 2 (generously….)Soak half a stale baguette with 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water and one of olive oil. Leave while you chop the rest of the ingredients.


8 Ripe, juicy red tomatoes
Half a Cucumber
1 Red Onion
1 Red Pepper

Optional Extras: a few cloves of garlic, kidney beans, a dash of Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.

Mix together in a blender.
Add the bready emulsion from above.
Blend again.

Optional Stage: If you prefer your gazpacho smooth, then sieve the mixture several times to remove traces of tomato seeds or skin. If you’re happy with it hearty, then leave it be.

Pour the mixture into bowls and chill for a few hours.

That’s it!

Optional Garnish: Iberian ham, sliced hard-boiled egg, a swirl of olive oil.


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

marina villatoro August 15, 2009

Delicious, i just love easy food that rocks! I had a gazpacho once that was made on ice. I can't really explain it, because I've tried to do it a few times but it never worked and it was sooooooo good!

Abi King August 17, 2009

Ah, gazpacho on ice. That sounds PERFECT for this weather. If you ever unearth the secret behind it then please – let us know!
I shall keep a beady eye out for it…..

Mikeachim August 20, 2009

You've reminded me of a dish I almost never eat, but definitely, definitely should. (And you've even given me a recipe! Ta).

Love gazpacho – but was slightly disappointed to find that it didn't quite marry with thickly-buttered chunky bread anymore. For that, you need the piping-hot variety (so the butter melts slightly and leaves delicious golden drips in your soup).

I'm sure there's a Euro health regulation saying that since it's served cold, gazpacho is a health risk.

(Sorry. Maybe I'm just bitter about all the current hoohah about ham, which I love almost as much as life itself. Grrr).

Abi King August 21, 2009

All common sense was lost with the 'straight banana' fiasco…(which, incidentally, my American family thought was a joke when I first mentioned it!)

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