Recipe by Celia Brooks
This closely resembles Salmorejo, a cold, thick, rich, salmon-pink gazpacho from the hills of Cordoba in Spain. Traditionally its garnishes include Iberico ham, but instead, as there are a lot of courgettes around at the moment, I’ve used fried courgette strips spiked with pimenton or smoked paprika.
The garnishes are optional, but they do make a meal of the soup – perfect for a late summer lunch. If serving plain, just sprinkle a little pimenton on top of each bowl to finish.
1 small or ½ large day-old crusty baguette, about 150g
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar from Brindisa
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 4 more + 2 more from The Olive Oil Co
600g ripe tomatoes (about 4 large), roughly chopped from The Tomato Stall
1 small cucumber or ½ a large one, peeled and roughly chopped, saving a small amount (2cm/1 inch piece) for garnish
2 cloves of garlic, bitter sprout removed if old, roughly chopped
Large pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
2cm/1 inch piece cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium courgette
2 teaspoons pimenton (smoked paprika – sweet or hot, to your taste) + a little extra
Cut the bread into small pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the vinegar, pour over the water and drizzle over 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Leave to soften while you prepare the rest of the soup.
In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, cucumber and garlic with a large pinch of salt. Whiz on high power for a couple of minutes, until you have a smooth puree.
Add the soaked bread and plenty of pepper and blitz until as smooth as possible, adding the 4 more tablespoons of olive oil gradually through the feed tube. Blend in a little more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
Taste for seasoning.
Pour the soup into a bowl or large jug, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to chill and develop flavour. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes, if using.
To prepare the courgette, trim, cut in half across the middle and then cut again along the seeds into four pieces with half-moon shaped ends. Slice into thin strips. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Fry the courgette strips until golden and crisp. Remove from the heat, sprinkle in the pimenton and stir to coat. Drain the strips on kitchen paper.
When ready to serve, taste the chilled soup once more for seasoning and stir. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle the garnishes (if using) on top of each: chopped egg in one section, cucumber in another, and fried courgette strips in another.
Finish with a final light sprinkle of pimenton. Serves 4