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Posted at: Jul 7, 2018, 12:23 AM; last updated: Jul 7, 2018, 12:23 AM (IST)

Cold treatment

Who said soups are not for sultry evenings? Try gazpacho

Radhika Sharma

I remember my first trip to Spain five years ago. A small cafe in Seville, a glass of sangria in one hand and my food list in the other, I searched the menu for the first food item I wanted to check off: gazpacho. A cold soup made from the freshest natural produce, garnished with olive oil and served with bread on the side. It may seem like the most simplest dish on the planet, which it is, and it is stunningly refreshing. Five years on, and gazpacho has settled into a constant spot in my summer kitchen.

Essentially, gazpacho is a mixture of pureed vegetables and has 10 essential ingredients: stale bread, tomato, bell peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, water, cucumber and salt. Its origins lie in Andalusian cuisine, specifically in Seville and Granada, and has seen influence in Portugal too. The recipe is attributed to Romans who brought along bread, olive oil and garlic to Spain and Portugal. While tomatoes weren’t added in the original versions, the most widespread version of gazpacho globally features raw tomatoes.

Traditionally, all vegetables are meant to be hand blended in a mortar-pestle to avoid the foaming of the produce, but blending it in a food processor does no damage to the taste at all. It’s super easy to make as it uses staple pantry ingredients and follows a basic method. Just blend tomato, bell peppers, onion, garlic and cucumber till they are semi-liquid, but partly coarse. Add chilled water, some olive oil, a spoonful of vinegar and salt to taste, and that’s it. A wide variety of garnishes such as sliced cucumbers, green/black olives and avocado, can be added on top. Modern versions of gazpacho also add some shrimp to turn it into a wholesome meal. Gazpacho can be served as a standalone dish or as tapas.

Now, India has embraced this cold soup phenomenon with its own cool twists. Add red chilli powder, green chillies, a dash of traditional South Indian coconut chutney, a bit of lemon and serve with crispy papad on the side. Upscale modern Indian restaurants are using gazpacho as an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser in-between courses. My personal favourite is gazpacho with a side of some chilled raita or plain yogurt. It is great to beat the heat and is ready within minutes. And let us not forget the perfect summer addition to gazpacho: our very own kachchi kairi!

Gulp down a gazpacho smoothie for breakfast, grab it as a starter for lunch or have a light dinner with it. This cold soup suits all moods and times. It is also extremely beneficial for the body as it contains a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium and sodium to name a few. It is also rich in antioxidants, fibre and vitamin C from the lemon and red tomatoes. This bright cold soup is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and is perfect for the weather.

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