Salmorejo (Spanish Chilled Tomato Soup)

Back in September, Eugene and I spent a couple weeks traveling around Portugal and Spain. I wrote a few posts about our Portugal trip, but I...uh...never quite got around to writing about Spain.

(Sorry!)

I have, however, kept a long list of dishes I tried while there, that I've been meaning to recreate. Chief among these was Salmorejo, a chilled, creamy raw tomato soup from the south of Spain that was one of Eugene's favorite things he ate during the entire trip.

Now that we're getting closer to tomato season (yay!), I figured it was time to finally share it. 

Salmorejo is similar in flavor to the better known gazpacho, but the texture is totally different. It's thick, creamy and absolutely luscious. The thickness comes from the addition of toasted bread, which absorbs excess liquid and thickens the puree.

The ingredients are otherwise super simple: ripe tomatoes, raw garlic, toasted almonds, fruity olive oil and a dash of sherry vinegar, then is served topped with chopped egg and jamon.

(I subbed a little fried cured chorizo, which I always have in my fridge. Bacon or prosciutto would also work well here!)

One thing I should note is about the preparation. The soup is made from totally raw ingredients, which means you don't have to turn on the stove, but there is still a trick to prepping the tomatoes. In order to get a really smooth and creamy soup, you have to first squeeze out the seeds and watery pulp.

It may be really tempting to skip this step, but DO NOT. It really makes a huge difference...and it's easy. And it's fun!

I explain how to best do this below--just trust me on this...



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Salmorejo (Spanish Chilled Tomato Soup)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
3 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted sandwich bread (about 3-4 slices)
1/2 cup whole almonds
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1/2 cup chopped serrano ham, chorizo, or crisped bacon

Directions

Place a sieve over a bowl. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze over sieve in order to remove the seeds. Set the squeezed tomatoes aside and repeat with rest of batch. Use a spoon to press the seeds in the sieve to strain as much liquid as possible. Discard seeds, but reserve the liquid in the bowl.

Combine toasted bread, almonds, and garlic in blender and process until coarsely chopped. Add tomatoes, reserved tomato liquid, vinegar, paprika, and puree until very smooth. (Do in batches if you don't have a very powerful blender.) Add a teaspoon of salt, and the olive oil, then puree again. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt, if desired.

Transfer to a covered bowl and chill at least 2 hours, or until very cold. Serve topped with chopped egg and jamon, bacon or chorizo.

NOTE: The texture should be thick and creamy, but smooth--similar to a butternut squash soup texture.  If yours is too thick, add a bit of water. If too thin, add a bit more toasted bread.

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