In the heart of Andalusia, where gazpacho also originated, Cordoba is home to gazpacho’s thicker ancestor, salmorejo. A simple mixture of tomatoes, seasonings, and moistened bread, salmorejo is usually garnished with chopped hard cooked egg, thin dice of Spanish Serrano ham, and a drizzle of olive oil. As in any dish of such simplicity, much depends on the quality of the ingredients. Salmorejo only has the right flavor when made with perfectly red and ripe summer tomatoes. This is from my dear friend, writer and blogger Sandy Leonard. He tasted the soup in Cordoba and managed to pry the recipe out of the restaurant’s chef before finishing his meal.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 pounds perfectly ripe summer tomatoes, rinsed, stem ends cut away, and diced
4 cups crustless firm white bread, such as Pane Sciocco, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and left to dry for several hours at room temperature
1 large clove garlic, finely grated
2 teaspoons kosher or other coarse salt
1/2 cup Spanish olive oil or other mild olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
2 ounces Spanish Serrano ham or other prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into 1/4-inch dice
More olive oil for drizzling
Put the tomatoes in the container of a blender.
Put the bread in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup water. Wait a few minutes for the water to soak in, then gently squeeze the bread to extract excess water and add the moistened bread to the blender jar.
Muddle the garlic and salt together and scrape into the blender.
Start the blender on low speed and gradually increase the speed until the mixture is finely pureed. Stop the blender and taste for salt, adding a little more if necessary.
Start the blender again on medium speed and drizzle in the oil in a thin stream, followed by the vinegar. Taste again and add a little more vinegar if you like. Check the consistency with a spoon: It should be no thicker than plain yogurt that’s been stirred up. If it’s thicker, add a little cold water to thin it out. Salmorejo isn’t thin, but it shouldn’t be overly thick either.
Pour the soup into a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
To serve, ladle the soup into chilled bowls and let guests help themselves to the garnishes, sprinkling them on the surface of the soup.