The miniature cups coming out of La Salmoreteca look like artistic confections, a rainbow of creamy puddings topped with yellow foam, white powder and what could be flakes of dark chocolate. On closer inspection inside the Mercado Lonja del Barranco—a riverside produce market in Seville converted into a sleek food hall—it’s clear those seemingly sweet treats are in fact updated variations of Spain’s lesser-known tomato-based chilled soup, salmorejo.
Creamier than gazpacho and with less than half the ingredients, salmorejo is no less flavorful despite its humble origins. Traditionally, ripe tomatoes were mashed in a mortar and pestle with stale bread, olive oil, garlic and salt. Chopped hard-cooked egg went on top, along with chunks of cured ham.
The consistency is thick enough to be a crudité dip, but refreshing and silky, with a bright flavor that plays off the salty ham and creamy egg—so much more than the sum of its parts.
At La Salmoreteca, chef Juanjo Ruiz uses fresh country-style bread because day-old bread is too dry. But he warns to use only the crumb and not the crust, or the soup will just taste like bread, and he stresses that the best tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil are crucial. The ingredients are then blended to create a smooth emulsion.
Inventive twists on classic salmorejo are served at La Salmoreteca
At Milk Street, we loved the original soup’s creamy simplicity, but we made a few adjustments to intensify the flavor. Flavorful in-season tomatoes are key. When those aren’t available, we found the best alternative was Campari or cocktail tomatoes, which tend to be reliably sweet year-round. And because olive oil plays such a big role, we made sure to pick one that tastes good on its own. A teaspoon of sugar brought out the sweetness of the tomatoes, and a few tablespoons of sherry vinegar balanced the flavor of the olive oil.
After combining most of the ingredients in a blender, we streamed in the oil with it running, which yielded a creamy, smooth emulsion. Tradition reigned with egg and ham as toppings, though we substituted crisped prosciutto for jamón serrano because it’s easier to find.
A final drizzle of olive oil and a garnish of chopped parsley left us with a soup that carried an outsize flavor in a simple recipe. A soup as flavorful and refreshing as a traditional gazpacho, minus much of the work.