We know that the Spanish are partial to a hearty stew or casserole, come the Autumn and Winter months, but what about soups? Here I provide the run-down of some of the best-known and best-loved soups found across Spain.
We can’t not talk about gazpacho, so let’s have it out right here, right now. A lot of people are put off by the idea of a ‘cold tomato soup’, but there’s something so special about the refreshing, tangy flavours that make up a gazpacho. This garlicky, tomato-y blend of deliciousness is most commonly associated with summer, as an antidote to days spent pounding the streets of Andalucía in 30+ degrees heat, but that doesn’t mean to say it can’t also be enjoyed when the nights draw in and temperatures drop. The general rule is: the warmer the temperature outside, the more diluted the soup should be. This means that in summer time, it can reduce to one of the most flavour-packed drinks you’ve ever had (Hey; it works for tomato juice!), whilst in the winter you might be eating it with a spoon. Either way, the primary ingredients are ripe tomatoes (the better the tomatoes, the better the gazpacho), old bread (used as a thickener), vinegar, garlic, cucumber, peppers and a little sugar for sweetness.
Hailing from Córdoba, salmorejo is like gazpacho’s less well-known little sister; she’s kind of quiet and reserved, but when you get to know her, boy is she great! Served as more of a puree than a soup, salmorejo is definitely an eat-with-a-spoon kind of dish, but of the two, it’s definitely my favourite. The very best salmorejos, personally, have a real hit of garlic and the flavour of the red and green peppers comes through, but what absolutely makes it is a topping of finely chopped hard-boiled egg and quickly fried jamón pieces. The saltiness and oil from the ham brings everything together and creates a great balance.
Sticking with garlic, because, well, we’re deep in the realms of Spanish culinary delights, garlic soup is kind of an odd concoction for anyone new to it. Unlike the previous two, this is a hot soup (temperature-wise), but feel free to add in a few chillies or a big teaspoon of hot paprika to spice things up a little. A lot of bread goes into this soup, as does a lot of garlic and a lot of chicken stock or water – all of this together does tend to lead to a slightly gloopy, gelatinous quality that definitely takes some getting used to. Generally, the flavour is great because home-cooked versions will often have some added chorizo, ham hock or butter beans to give an extra dimension of flavour and texture.
All of these recipes, as well as a few extras, are available on the Tapas Lunch Company’s Cookbook section, so why not give some a go?!
Leah Hendre is currently studying Spanish and Linguistics at Oxford University, but is using her free time to share her love and passion for Spain - and more importantly, Spanish food. www.LeahHendre.com, @LeahHendre [Twitter + Instagram]