I’ve never understood the notion of barbecues. Why, when it is already boiling hot, would you want to light a big fire and stand over it getting hotter? No, when it’s 30° (oh, it’s such a treat to write that) I don’t want to be near anything hot, not the oven, not the hob and certainly not a big smoky grill. As soon as the temperature rises I want one of three things: someone else to cook for me (then, please, barbecue away…); salads, like this watermelon and feta one or, failing both of those, cold soups like gazpacho or, in recent weeks, salmorejo cordobés.
This is another Claudia Roden recipe from my trip to Ballymaloe but I first had it many years ago in Córdoba. I remember not being overwhelmed by it then, probably being loyal to the ‘greener’ taste of gazpacho, but when I tried it again in, ironically, Cork I was converted, especially since the recipe is even easier than my one for gazpacho. Make (or even buy…) breadcrumbs, shove all in blender, season; my sort of recipe. In fact the hardest part of this is the garnish: hard-boiling some eggs and finding a shop willing/able to cut a thick, rather than the usual thin, slice of jamón serrano. Don’t be put off by the lurid orange colour; it tastes much much better than it looks. And, if you are a cold-soup-naysayer, try it in small doses: I served it in shot glasses at the last wine-tasting and even though it was still, in June, a night for socks and fleeces, it was devoured.
Enough for two me-size portions but easily scaled up
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
egg (optional, for garnish)
day-old bread, 100g or the same weight of breadcrumbs
garlic cloves, 2
olive oil, 50ml (ish)
caster sugar, ½ teaspoon
white wine vinegar, ½ tablespoon
salt and pepper
really ripe tomatoes, about 450g
jamón serrano, cut in one piece, about 40g
1) If you are garnishing the soup with a hard-boiled egg, then put the egg on to boil whilst you do everything else. (I find about six minutes is just done for me, then I bash the shell and cool it down under the cold tap to prevent that nasty green line forming.) Peel as soon as it is cool and chop into small pieces.
2. Put the bread into a blender and whiz until reduced to crumbs but not powder. You can smugly ignore this step if you have bought breadcrumbs.
3. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the hard white bits at the stem end then chop into largish pieces.
4. Peel, top and tail and crush/chop the garlic cloves.
5. Blend the tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic, sugar and a little salt and pepper until completely smooth.
6. Add the breadcrumbs and blend again (or, if you want, you can just stir them and not blend a second time).
7. Taste, add the vinegar, taste again and then, as required, add a little more oil, salt and/or pepper.
8. Snip the jamón into lardon-size pieces, garnish the salmorejo with a few pieces of jamón and a few pieces of egg then serve.