We’ve entered peak tomato season. Which also means it’s the perfect time for gazpacho.
For Luis Bollo, chef and partner at the Spanish restaurant Salinas in Chelsea, that means salmorejo specifically — a thicker version of the cold soup — that’s common in south Spain.
“It’s a smoother batch of gazpacho — it’s a little more hearty,” says Bollo. “I feel that gazpacho is more salad than a soup itself. When I have gazpacho, I like having a liquid salad than a cold soup.”
For the month of August, Bollo is serving this dense gazpacho made from yellow tomatoes as a special.
“Usually gazpacho is red tomatoes, but I thought it was important to do the yellow version to do it my own way and make sure it looks different and special,” Bollo says. “When it comes to presentation, it feels more unique.”
Bollo recommends using the ripest tomatoes available when making your own salmorejo.
“The ones that are almost broken, those have a lot of flavor,” he says. “You might think, ‘Oh, I can’t use that anymore.’ Those are actually the right ones.”
When making the base, Bollo also advises using a light olive oil and diluting the vinegar with something like juice so it’s not as “aggressive.”
“You don’t want to overshadow the real flavors of the vegetables,” he says.
The gazpacho is topped with spring onions, which are milder than other onions, and roasted corn — which is also in season.
“The charred flavor of the corn, in combination with the freshness of the yellow tomatoes, creates a great balance of smokiness and sweetness,” Bollo says.
Ibérico or serrano ham is also a traditional garnish for salmorejo, says the chef — and adds a salty, nutty flavor.
The garnishes can be flexible, too, depending on what’s available.
“You can use the recipe itself as a base, adding the rest of the summer things that you can find in the market — nice avocados, fresh radishes, zucchini — anything can go on it,” Bollo says. “It’s really seasonal, and like a salad you can add as much fresh toppings as you can. You can become creative.”
Recipe for Salinas’ yellow gazpacho with ham
2 lbs ripe yellow Roma tomatoes
7 oz. stale white country bread (diced, crust removed)
1⁄2 tbsp. alioli (or garlic mayo)
Cumin, a pinch to taste
8 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (hojiblanca olive oil if possible)
1 tsp. salt
2 oz. chardonnay vinegar or very light white wine vinegar
12 thin slices of ibérico or serrano ham
1 tbsp. roasted corn kernels
1 tbsp. chopped spring onions
Smoked Spanish sweet paprika (Pimenton de La Vera), pinch to taste
Wash the tomatoes and cut them into 8 pieces. Place them in a blender and blend until they become a puree. Sift this liquid to remove the seeds and any large pieces of skin.
Dice the bread and add it to the tomato liquid. Let it soak for about 15 minutes so that the bread will soften and be easier to blend.
Add alioli and ground cumin to the tomato and the bread.
Add the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and the salt to the tomato and bread mixture.
Blend everything together until you have a smooth, thick soup.
Cool in the fridge for 2 hours.
Pour the salmorejo amarillo into four bowls and garnish with thin slices of ham, roasted corn kernels, spring onions and a sprinkle of paprika.