Summer flavor

Not having to wear socks for 4 months, flip flops, summer dresses, ice cream, pools, sun, the beach, barbecues, tanning, going out at night without a coat. In case you haven't noticed, I am talking about the summer. I am talking about why the summer is my very favorite time of the year. And I am talking about that because, finally, the summer has arrived!

Last weekend we went away and experienced the beginning of the hot season first hand with a good dose of beach, friends, ice cream, grilling, playing in the sun, and mosquito bites (that's not one of my favorite summer things). We went to Chincoteague Island (Chincowhat?), a beautiful retreat in Virginia, and we happened to rent the most amazing house just by the water.

But now we are back to our tiny apartment on the 22nd floor, without an ocean view, looking at rooftops and surviving thanks to the AC. I really had to make something to get that nice feeling of summer back, and so I did. I made Salmorejo.

Salmorejo is a very typical Spanish cold tomato soup. -Gazpacho?-You ask. No, Gazpacho is Salmorejo's little brother. Salmorejo is the fatty version of gazpacho. The flavor and the texture are a little different, as gazpacho has more vegetables, less oil and less bread than salmorejo . While gazpacho is more liquid, more acidic and more refreshing, salmorejo is thicker, creamier, tastier and much heavier. Gazpacho is usually garnished with cubed tomatoes and cucumbers. Salmorejo is garnished with croutons, cured ham and hard boiled egg. While eating a bowl of gazpacho always makes you want more, eating a bowl of salmorejo makes you not want to eat more in a week. You get it, right?

Salmorejo makes me think of summer. It reminds me of the beach of Cadiz, where I spent many summers of my life.

What foods bring YOU summer memories?

Serves 4

The important thing here is to use very ripe and flavorful tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are good for this, and tomatoes on the vine are also fine if they are ripe. I usually don't peel the tomatoes because I have a very powerful blender, but if you don't or you find that the skin is too thick, peeling them should be better. Salmorejo should be thick and the thickness will depend on the amount of water in the tomatoes. If you find it not thick enough, add more bread. If you find it too thick, just add water. 

For the salmorejo
2lb (1kg) ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 slices white bread
1/2 cup (8 tbsp, 120ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cider vinegar

For the garnish
2 tbsp chopped serrano ham or prociutto
1 egg, hard boiled, chopped

To peel the tomatoes, boil water in a medium sauce pan. Score the bottom of each tomato with a cross and put in the boiling water, in batches, for 30 seconds. After this process the skin becomes lose and really easy to remove. 

Peel and quarter the tomatoes, and put them in the blender. Add the garlic cloves. Soak the bread in water and squeeze it with your hands. Add the bread to the blender. Puree until smooth, about 3 minutes (it will depend on the blender, but the soup should be smooth with no lumps). Open the blender and add the oil, salt and vinegar. Close the blender and mix for 10 more seconds. Pour the soup in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Serve the salmorejo in soup bowls and sprinkle with some serrano ham, hard boiled egg and croutons. Drizzle with olive oil.