Saturday, October 19, 2019


Gazpachuelo nine different ways was the special offer at a seaside Málaga restaurant, Balneario Baños del Carmen. We sampled four of them. Following on platters of sardines roasted on espetones (skewers) and accompanied by a crisp Albariño white wine, the gazpachuelo soups made up birthday lunch for my friend and colleague, Gerry Dawes, the expert on Spanish gastronomy, wine and travel, who does specialized custom tours for culinary luminaries (Rozanne Gold, chef and cookbook author, and Michael Whiteman, restaurant consultant, were the guests at this lunch). 

Tables on the edge of the sea at Málaga's Balneario Baños del Carmen. 

Gazpachuelo is not gazpacho. It’s a hot soup, typical of Málaga’s fishermen’s quarter. Basically, it is nothing more than egg, olive oil, bits of fish or shellfish and either bread or potatoes. In the inland village where I live, it is even simpler—egg, olive oil and potato. But, gazpachuelo is more than the sum of its parts. The egg and oil make an emulsified mayonnaise, creating a creamy, satisfying, tasty soup that has inspired local chefs to ring the changes on the simple original.

Seafood and Viña AB Sherry.
Of the ones we sampled at the Balneario, two were almost identical—the malagueño and the one with almejas (clams). The Viña AB, which I remember from the now defunct Restaurante Alegría in the center of Málaga, contains more fish and shellfish, plus a shot of Viña AB amontillado Sherry. The fourth one we tried was pretty radical—gazpachuelo de callos, or tripe. The soup had a pinkish-orange tinge, probably smoked pimentón, and a background flavour of morcilla, or blood sausage. The pieces of pig’s tripe were incredibly tender and succulent.

Inspired by our gazpachuelo lunch and a review of the book, Gazpachuelos de Málaga, by Fernando Sánchez Gómez, with 102 versions of the soup, I tried some variations of my own: turkey meatballs in a chicken-broth-based soup.

Gazpachuelo with turkey meatballs, purple and white potatoes and a snippet of chorizo sausage.

Play with the garnishes to add color and texture. Perhaps some saffron in the meatballs, to give them a yellow color?

Turkey Meatballs in Gazpachuelo Soup
Gazpachuelo con Albóndigas de Ave

You can prepare the soup in stages. If you’re making home-made chicken broth, start at least a day before finishing the soup, so it has time to chill, solidifying the fat on top of the broth. 

Chicken breast could be used instead of turkey for the meatballs (or, look at other meatball and fish ball possibilities, listed at the end of the recipe). Turkey bones could be used instead of chicken for the broth. Sub in rice in place of potatoes. Use different varietals of olive oil to change flavors. (Hojiblanca varietal is typical of Málaga.) Vary the garnishes when serving the soup.

For the chicken broth:
Makes about 10 cups of broth.

2 pounds chicken pieces, such as backs, wings, necks
12 cups water
1 leek
½ onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
Parsley stems
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Sprig of thyme

Wash the chicken pieces and place them in a large soup pot. Add the water and bring to a boil. Skim off the froth that rises to the top. Add the leek, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, salt, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme. Bring again to a boil, reduce heat and cook, covered, 1 hour.

Remove from heat. Let the broth cool slightly, then pour it through a colander into a heat-proof bowl that can be refrigerated. Save the carrot, if desired, to add to the finished soup. Discard the bones, vegetables, spices and herbs.

Refrigerate the broth, covered, overnight or up to 3 days. Before continuing with the soup, remove the congealed fat from the top of the broth. 

For the olive oil mayonnaise:
1 large egg, room temperature
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons or more freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Blender mayonnaise.

Place the egg and oil in the container of an immersion blender. Blend at high speed until the mixture begins to thicken and emulsify. Raise and lower the blender blade to completely combine the mayonnaise. Blend in the lemon juice and salt. Taste the mayonnaise and add more lemon juice as desired.
Keep the mayonnaise in the blender container while continuing with the soup.

If making the mayonnaise in advance of finishing the soup, refrigerate it, covered. Bring to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.

For the turkey meatballs:
Parsley, garlic, nutmeg for meatballs.
This is traditional seasoning for meatballs—garlic, parsley, nutmeg. You could vary the flavors—a pinch of thyme, perhaps, or grated ginger. As these meatballs are not floured and fried before being added to the soup, they are very white. A pinch of saffron would be a nice addition.

The meatballs can be prepared in advance of making the soup. Either poach them in the chicken broth or in salted water. Reheat the meatballs before adding to the soup.

Makes about 30 (1-inch) balls

1 pound ground turkey breast
3 slices bread (3 ounces), crusts removed
¼ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

Break the bread into pieces and place in a small bowl. Pour over the milk and allow it to soak 5 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the milk as possible. Place the bread in a mixing bowl and mash it with the beaten egg. Add the parsley, garlic, salt and nutmeg. Mix in the ground turkey, using a fork to combine it thoroughly.

Chill the meatball mixture at least 30 minutes or, covered, until the following day.

Dip hands in cold water and roll the meat into small (1-inch) balls. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet while heating the soup.

Cook the meatballs in the simmering soup (see below).

For the soup:
The process is pretty simple. First, you’re going to “temper” the mayonnaise by blending in some of the hot soup. Then, you will whisk the diluted mayonnaise into the soup. Either serve the soup immediately or very gently reheat it without letting it come to a boil, which would cause the mayonnaise to “break,” or coagulate, spoiling the gorgeous velvety texture of the soup.

Be sure to taste the soup after the addition of the mayonnaise to the soup pot. Depending on the broth, the soup may need more salt or more lemon juice.

Classic gazpachuelo contains potatoes. I chose to use part purple potatoes, just to give the soup some visual pizazz. Rice can be used instead of potatoes. And, why not add some more vegetables? On a second day appearance, I added baby spinach to the soup and meatballs.

Serves 6.

10 cups chicken broth
Turkey balls
2 medium potatoes (12 ounces), white and/or purple, diced
¼ cup fino (dry) Sherry
¾ cup olive oil mayonnaise
Cooked carrot, sliced
1 slice cured chorizo, cut in small triangles
Chopped scallions or parsley to garnish
Toasted croutons (optional)

Place the broth in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and add the turkey balls. Cook, stirring them gently, until they are cooked through, about 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meatballs and keep them warm while finishing the soup.

Add the diced potatoes to the soup and cook them until just tender (5-10 minutes, depending on variety). Add the Sherry and the carrot to the soup and cook 4 minutes. Lower the heat to low.

Ladle 1 cup of the hot broth into a heat-proof measuring cup. Give the mayonnaise another whir with the blender. With the blender running, slowly pour in the hot broth. Whisk the tempered mayonnaise into the hot soup.

Place the meatballs in shallow soup bowls. Ladle the soup and potatoes over them. Garnish with pieces of chorizo and chopped scallions. Serve croutons on the side.

To reheat leftover soup: Bring the soup to room temperature and strain out the meatballs. Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with ¼ cup water. Place about 6 cups of the soup in a pan on moderate heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring, until soup is hot (180ºF). Do not let it boil. Return meatballs to the soup to heat.

Meatballs and potatoes in creamy olive oil-chicken soup.

Happy birthday, Gerry! Carrot cake and Veuve Pelletier rosé to finish our seaside lunch.

Related recipes:
Mediterranean Seafood Chowder (classic gazpachuelo).
Classic Gazpachuelo with a chef's suggestions.
Fish Balls.
Cuttlefish Balls.
Meatballs (pork and beef).
Chicken Meatballs.

The Jornada Gastronómica del Gazpachuelo at Balneario de Baños del Carmen continues through November 25.

Gazpachuelos de Málaga, by Fernando Sánchez Gómez is published by the Diputación de Málaga and Sabor a Málaga.

Gerry Dawes.
Rozanne Gold.
Michael Whiteman.

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