Salmorejo

 
 

You may have seen that I went to a small town in Spain recently to get sunburnt on the beach while drinking lots of beer. I thought being a vegan in Spain would be difficult given the preponderance of Spanish cheeses and cured meats. (Please excuse me using the word preponderance. It is my new favourite word). But I really didn't struggle. Lots of tapas dishes are serendipitously (second new favourite word) vegan:

  • Patatas bravas - potatoes in a spicy, tomato sauce
  • Gazpacho - chilled tomato soup
  • Setas al ajillo - mushrooms in garlic sauce

What's more, if you buy a beer for €2/€3, you get a plate of tapas with it. Completely free. I was immediately a fan.

 
 

Today's recipe is for salmorejo: a chilled tomato soup. As opposed to a frantic tomato soup. Hilarious, aren't I? Salmorejo is basically gazpacho's creamier, thicker cousin, mainly composed of tomatoes, bread, olive oil, vinegar and garlic. The reason I felt like writing a recipe for it is because, unfortunately for vegans, salmorejo is most commonly garnished with hard-boiled eggs, serrrano ham or tuna.

I thought I'd try to recreate the meaty texture ham or tuna would bring, so have used sautéed mushrooms which worked perfectly. Shallots also added a savoury, textural contrast while the capers give a nice acidic twist. 

 
 

I don't think I have been quite nerdy enough so here's a cool anecdote. While eating at Bella Ciao, a tapas place that caters for vegans, the waiter had a particularly hard time explaning what setas are. Google translated them to be mushrooms, but our Spanish friend insisted they were different. After more searching, we found that the Spanish have three words for mushrooms: el hongo meaning a species of fungi, el champiñón meaning button mushroom, and setas to indicate wild mushrooms. At least that's how I made sense of it in my head.

With that, I'll leave you with the recipe. I hope you enjoy. Adiós.

Salmorejo
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Salmorejo

Yield:
Serves 4
Hands-on time:
20 mins
Hands-off time:
20 mins

Ingredients:

  for the soup
7 large ripe tomatoes (~1kg/2.2lbs in weight)
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 slices white bread (total weight 55g)
tsp sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar will work as well)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup water
  for the garnish
1 tbsp capers
1 shallot, sliced into strips
4 large button mushrooms

Process:

  1. To peel the tomatoes, slice a cross on the bottom of each tomato, then submerge them in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Now peel the skins off (not essential that you get every last bit of skin).
  3. In a large blender (or a small one - I did mine in 2 batches) add all the ingredients for the soup apart from the olive oil. Blitz until smooth.
  4. With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil so it emulisifes into the soup. If your blender doesn't have a hole in the top, use a stick blender, or add small amounts of olive oil while pulsing in between.
  5. Now season with salt and pepper to taste and add more vinegar if you think it needs it. Transfer to the fridge to chill the soup.
  6. To make the garnish (20-30 minutes before you want to eat), heat 2 tbsp olive oil over a med/med-low heat in a large frying pan.
  7. Add the shallot and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook for 10-15 more minutes.
  8. Turn the heat up to high and add the capers for 1 minute just to crisp them slightly.
  9. Serve the chilled salmorejo in bowls topped with a couple heaped tablespoons of the garnish and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.