Recipes - Starters

Gazpacho – Spanish style tomatoes & cucumbers

If you have a bumper tomato crop, how about trying a traditional Spanish dish called Gazpacho.  This is a cold soup which is especially good on hot summer days but equally delicious as a starter to a meal any time of the year.  It goes back to pre-Roman times when shepherds feasted on the original version made from stale bread, garlic, vinegar, oil and water.  Later famers add vegetables to it to make it more substantial, and when working in the fields, they ate the gazpacho to satisfy their hunger, quench their thirst and in scorching heat, supply them with necessary salt and vitamins.  The word gazpacho comes from the Latin caspa meaning ‘leftovers’ or a little something. 

Gazpacho Andaluz

This is a genuine Spanish recipe from ‘Culinaria Spain’.

Serves 4-6

Preparation:  20-30 mins  plus chilling time     Ready in an hour


2-3 slices of white bread                                

500 g (1 lb) of ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced        

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced           

125 mil (½ cup) olive oil


2-3 tablespoons wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

To garnish (optional):  Cubes of white bread, small cubes of tomato, peppers diced up small, diced onion, cubes of ham, hard-boiled egg – diced up small.      



  1. Roughly break up the white bread, and pour some water over.  Then leave to soak for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Put the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and garlic in a blender, then add the bread, and finally the oil, and puree the whole mixture.  Add enough water as necessary to give the soup the required consistency. Then, if necessary, pass the soup through a fine sieve.  Season with salt and vinegar. 
  3. Place the Gazpacho in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour (or 10 minutes in a freezer). 
  4. Serve it very cold with separate bowls of white bread cubes, small pieces of pepper, or others on the garnish list, which each person mixes into their soup themselves.   Or just eat it as it is! 

Tip for peeling tomatoes:

Cut the cores from the tomatoes and score an “x” on the base.  Immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 8-15 seconds until their skins start to split.  Transfer at once to cold water.  When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin with a small knife.

Gazpacho 2

This version is by Mary Berry

Serves 4-6    Preparation:  20-30mins, plus at least an hour chilling time  

                       Cook: No cooking                  Ready in 1 ½ hours


1 kg (2 lb) of fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded                        

1 large Spanish onion

200 g (7 oz) can sweet red pimientos, drained                             

2 large garlic cloves

600 mil (1 pint) cold chicken  stock                                                 

75 ml (2 ½ fl.oz) olive oil

4 tbspns red wine vinegar                                                                 

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt and black pepper                                                                       

To garnish:  ½ cucumber, diced,  1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and diced, Garlic croutons (optional)


  1. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, onion, pimientos and garlic.  Puree in a food processor or blender with the stock, oil, and vinegar until smooth
  2. Turn the mixture into a bowl and add the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour
  3. Garnish with spoonfuls of diced cucumber, green pepper and garlic croutons and serve.

Gazpacho  3

This version is from Marguerite Patten’s 500 Recipes from Abroad  (1962)

Serves 4-6


1 lb tomatoes                                           

1 medium sized cucumber                   

1 small green pepper

1 onion or several spring onions          

1-2 cloves garlic                                       


Lemon juice or white wine vinegar      

A little olive oil                                        


Garnish:  Finely cut cucumber


  1. Put the water into the fridge to become very cold.
  2. Peel the tomatoes (see tip above), cucumber, pepper, onion and garlic and chop coarsely if you have a liquidiser.  Leave a bit of cucumber to use as garnish. 
  3. Put the cut vegetables in the blender with a little of the cold water
  4. If you don’t have a blender, cut the cucumber and peppers into very small dice, and slice the onions and garlic finely.  Save some cucumber for the garnish.   Cut the tomatoes coarsely.  Place all these ingredients into a bowl and pound until smooth or rub through a sieve. 
  5. Put puree into basin, then gradually beat in seasoning, olive oil, and enough cold water to give a flowing consistency.  Taste and re-season and add lemon juice.
  6. Put the soup in the fridge – it must be served cold – Serve garnished with cucumber in ice-cold soup cups


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