The Cold Comfort of Gazpacho

Spain's famed gazpacho is the quintessential summer soup.

Christopher Hirsheimer

Cool, vaguely acidic, and faintly sweet, gazpacho (sometimes spelled gaspacho) is the definitive Andalusian dish, and—with the possible exception of paella—Spain's most famous culinary export. The word itself apparently derives from the Spanish caspa, which once had the meaning of leftovers or crumbs (the soup may well have been made originally with overripe vegetables or vegetable scraps), but now, somewhat disconcertingly, means dandruff.

There are a number of variations on gazpacho. The famous gazpacho blanco, or ajo blanco, of Malaga is white, made with garlic, bread, and almonds, and garnished with green grapes; a tomato-based version from Granada is scented with cumin; still another one involves fava beans. All gazpachos, though, seem to have at least three elements in common: bread, oil, and vinegar. Unless, of course, you're in Alicante province, where gaspatxos (a singular noun, despite the s) is a hearty game stew that has nothing at all to do with the Andalusian versions. But the traditional, tomato-based Andalusian gazpacho is the one you want to find on your table on a hot day or a warm evening. It's salad in a blender; summer in a bowl—or in a glass, since you can even quaff it like a beverage. ¡Salud!