IN CÓRDOBA IN SUMMER, COME 11 AM, A HIGH-PITCHED DRONE SEEMS TO EMANATE FROM THE VERY WALLS OF EVERY HOUSE. THIS IS THE SOUND OF THE BLENDERS WORKING AWAY MAKING GAZPACHO FOR LUNCH. GAZPACHO IS A COLD SOUP THAT CAME TO SPAIN WITH THE ARABS. IT WAS ORIGINALLY MADE WITH BREAD, WATER, GARLIC AND SALT. OVER THE CENTURIES THIS BASIC SOUP HAS EVOLVED INTO MANY VARIATIONS. THE BEST KNOWN IS GAZPACHO ANDALUZ: A COLD SOUP MADE FROM BREAD, WATER, GARLIC AND SUMMER VEGETABLES. ANOTHER VARIATION IS SALMOREJOS — A COLD TOMATO SOUP. THE NEED FOR A LIGHT, COLD SOUP CAN BE EXPLAINED BY THE MOORISH ARCHITECTURAL LEGACY. THERE ARE COUNTLESS TOWNS AND CITIES IN THE SOUTH WHERE THE OLD CENTRE IS MADE UP OF A LABYRINTH OF NARROW STREETS HEDGED IN BY SOLID BRICK AND STONE WALLS. COME SUMMER, THESE BECOME A STIFLINGLY HOT ENVIRONMENT WHERE COMFORT IS SOUGHT IN EVERY BREATH OF WIND, EVERY SIP OF WATER — AND EVERY SPOONFUL OF COLD GAZPACHO.
Place the jamón slices on a baking tray in a single layer and
Put the bread in a large bowl, pour in just enough water to cover, then leave to soak for 1 hour.
Shell the broad beans from their pods — at this stage do not remove the smooth outer skin, also known as double shelling or double podding. Reserve two small handfuls of the beans and keep them separate.
Tip the bread and soaking water into a food processor. Add the broad beans, garlic and olive oil and purée until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing well to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in the sea salt, then refrigerate until chilled.
Double peel the reserved broad beans. Drop the beans into a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh in iced water.
Pour the soup into chilled bowls, then scatter with the reserved broad beans and mint. Crumble the jamón over the soup and serve with a lightly chilled amontillado sherry.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.