Salmorejo is Spain’s lesser known but creamier tomato-based chilled soup. It has fewer than half the ingredients of gazpacho, but is no less flavorful thanks to a topping of savory ham and hard-cooked egg.
The version we tasted in Seville had a consistency thick enough to be a crudités dip, yet was refreshing and silky, with a bright flavor that played off the ham and creamy egg. It was so much more than the sum of its parts.
For the version in our book “Tuesday Nights Mediterranean,” which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region, we prefer peak-season, perfectly ripe tomatoes. Out of season, Campari or cocktail tomatoes also are a good choice, as they are dependably sweet year-round.
Excellent results also require high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, so make sure the oil you use does not have bitter or harsh notes. Bread helps thicken the soup and gives it its creamy consistency; choose a crusty, country-style loaf with a relatively soft interior so the bread blends easily into the soup, but remember to remove the crust.
A teaspoon of sugar brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes, and a few tablespoons of sherry vinegar balance the richness of the olive oil.
To keep the soup chilled for as long as possible at the table, we like to refrigerate the serving bowls. And don’t forget to taste the soup for seasoning after chilling, just before serving. Chilling blunts flavor, so though the soup may have initially tasted fine, after chilling it likely will need additional salt and pepper.
Start to finish: 15 minutes, plus chilling
2 pounds ripe tomatoes (see headnote), cored
2 1/2 ounces country-style white bread (see note), crust removed, torn into small pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 medium garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon white sugar
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
4 thin slices prosciutto (2 ounces), torn into pieces
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a blender, combine the tomatoes, bread, bell pepper, garlic, sugar, vinegar and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Blend on high until completely smooth and no bits of tomato skins remain, about 1 minute. With the blender running, gradually add ¾ cup oil. Transfer to a large bowl, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, 2 to 4 hours.
While the soup chills, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool completely, then roughly chop; set aside.
Taste the soup and season again with salt and pepper. Ladle it into chilled bowls. Top with the prosciutto, hard-cooked egg (if using) and parsley. Drizzle with additional oil and vinegar as desired.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap
Christopher Kimball, The Associated Press