Chef Aaron Chambers’s Andalusian gazpacho treads on Italian territory.
Gazpacho has become a standard on summer menus around town, a dish that, in its original form in Spain’s southern province of Andalusia, is made with just a few simple ingredients, including crushed tomatoes, olive oil, cucumbers, red wine vinegar, and bread. Bread?
Yes, bread was the original thickener of this never-been-cooked soup, mixed into the liquefied tomatoes as bread crumbs. This gives the soup a rich texture, and explains how it could be made before the advent of the food processor or even the blender. It’s also a nice way to burn off extra overripe tomatoes as summer ends.
The version at Boulud Sud is squarely within that tradition: coarse textured, tart, tomatoey. The difference lies in the use of green herbal oil and fresh basil leaves, making it taste more Genoan or even more Provençal. (Don’t forget, along the Cote d’Azure a vegetable soup called pistou thickened with basil paste is popular.)
At any rate, Boulud Sud’s version also boasts focaccia croutons, perhaps to remind us of the original use of bread to thicken the soup. It makes a nice picture in the bowl.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 31, 2011