I'm sure most of you are familiar with tomato gazpacho, that chilled, ultra-refreshing Spanish soup that's often called a "liquid salad." It shows up everywhere, including a whole bunch of recipes in the Serious Eats archives. But not nearly as many diners outside the Iberian Peninsula are hip to the many other regional versions of this ultimate hot-weather appetizer, which vary significantly by ingredient. The one thing all have in common, though, is that they are puréed to a somewhat smooth consistency and served cold. "There are some thirty classic versions and many variations of this ancient dish," writes Barbara Norman in the succinctly-titled The Spanish Cookbook, one of my favorite authorities on the country's cuisine.
At this time of year, when the weather is balmy enough to make a consistently liquid diet attractive, it's worth considering adding a couple more gazpacho recipes to your cold-soup arsenal. One of the tastiest versions is white gazpacho, said to hail from the southern coastal region of Málaga (and also said to predate the more well known tomato variation, which wouldn't have been possible until after tomatoes were brought to Europe from the Americas).
A thick, luxuriously creamy blend of almonds, garlic, and plenty of fruity olive oil, the soup calls upon the region's famous Jordan almonds to create a rich, substantial dish that's traditionally topped with halved green grapes, which help cut through the soup's intensity and vinegar tang. Although there are tons of recipes for white gazpacho out there—many of them calling for additional ingredients such as cucumber and often directing cooks to blend the grapes into the soup—my own research indicates that the most traditional preparation of the soup calls for a slim ingredient list, so that's what I've gone with in this version. The end result is an assertive but somehow delicate soup that's both refreshing and substantial all at once.
For a lighter, less traditional take on gazpacho—most versions include fruits such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers, but no authentic Spanish gazpachos call for sweet fruit—I created a cantaloupe gazpacho that I garnish with oven-crisped shards of prosciutto. If you're a fan of the classic European cold melon and prosciutto appetizer, then this soup's for you. The fragrant melon yields a beautiful, coral-colored gazpacho, and cucumber and onion join the party to keep the soup firmly rooted in savory territory. So the next time you have a yen for an icy soup that's ready in just minutes, give tomato a break and try one of these versions instead.