Celia Brooks' Spanish gazpacho

Gazpacho comes in many guises – some do not even use tomatoes, as it’s been around since before Columbus returned to Spain from the New World with the juicy red fruits in the 1500s. This one is tomato based, and it most closely resembles Salmorejo, a cold, thick, rich, salmon-pink gazpacho from the hills of Cordoba. The garnishes – which also traditionally include Iberico ham – are optional, but they do make a meal of the soup – perfect for a light summer lunch.

Serves 4


1 small or 1/2 large stale crusty baguette (dry but not mouldy), about 150g
2 tbsp good red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
100ml water
200ml extra virgin olive oil
600g ripe tomatoes (about 4 large), roughly chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
Large pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 hard-boiled free range eggs, finely chopped
2cm/1 inch piece cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium courgette
2 tsp pimenton (smoked paprika – sweet or hot, to your taste


1. Cut the bread into small pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the vinegar, pour over the water and drizzle over 4 tbsp olive oil. Leave to soften while you prepare the rest of the soup.

2. In a Kenwood blender, combine the tomatoes, cucumber and garlic with a large pinch of salt. Blend on high power for a couple of minutes, until you have a smooth purée. Add the soaked bread and plenty of pepper and process until as smooth as possible, adding the 4 more tbsp olive oil gradually through the feed tube. Taste for seasoning.

3. Pour the soup into a bowl or large jug, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to chill and develop flavour. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes.

4. To prepare the courgette, trim, cut in half across the middle and then cut again along the seeds into four pieces with half-moon shaped ends. Slice into thin strips. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Fry the courgette strips until golden and crisp. Remove from the heat, sprinkle in the pimenton and stir to coat. Drain the strips on kitchen paper.

5. When ready to serve, taste the chilled soup once more for seasoning and stir. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle the garnishes on top of each: chopped egg in one section, cucumber in another, and fried courgette strips in another. Finish with a final light sprinkle of pimenton.
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