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November 06, 2010

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Gazpacho soup, usually simply referred to as gazpacho, is a cold Spanish soup originating in the Southern region of Andalusia. It is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal and certain Latin American countries. It descends from an ancient Andalusian concoction based on a combination of stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar — a cold breadsoup. With the Columbian Exchange beginning in 1492, the tomato and the bell pepper were brought to Europe.

While tomato is an important ingredient of a common form of gazpacho, the original ingredients, mentioned above, not tomato, are those which define gazpacho[1]. In Andalusia, there are several types of gazpacho and many do not include tomato as an ingredient. One very popular type of gazpacho is white gazpacho or ajo blanco malagueño, made principally with almonds, bread, garlic, vinegar and oil.

A completely different approach for this recipe is gazpacho manchego. As the name implies, it seems to have originated from the La Mancha region of Spain, but it is also popular in other areas in the center and southwest of the country. Instead of a cold soup, it is a warm stew. The main ingredients are meat (rabbit in many cases) and bread (a special kind of flat bread), and may also include mushrooms.

The soup is also classically accompanied by hard boiled egg[2]. The garnishes are served separately, in little bowls, to be added as desired. Occasionally, restaurants in western Spain serve a tomato gazpacho garnished with small cubes of the local ham (e.g. jamón serrano, jamón de bellota, etc.). This is common in Extremadura, where much high-quality ham is produced (under the official Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origin classification Dehesa de Extremadura or Extremadura Range). On menus in certain Extremaduran restaurants, gazpacho with local ham is called gazpacho extremeño. The ham tends to be added to the soup in the kitchen prior to serving (unlike the other garnishes which are provided in separate dishes and added at the table).

Today, in the United States, most gazpacho recipes include tomato, cucumber, bell (sweet) pepper, onion, garlic, and celery. Some also include olive oil, bread, vinegar or lemon juice, fresh herbs, sugar, canned tomato juice, or hot sauce. Gazpacho is sometimes pureed until smooth, and sometimes served with small or large chunks of vegetables.

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