Cold Almond and Garlic Soup (Metric)

Also known as white gazpacho, ajo blanco is a perfect cold summer soup: easy to make, healthful, and distinctive. The Arabs who ruled Andalusia for almost 800 years introduced almonds to the Iberian Peninsula, and this dish probably originated with their reign. Though highly popular in Andalusia, it is little known in the rest of Spain and virtually unknown in the United States. I served it garnished with grapes, but thin apple slices are also common.

Customary version of recipe

Yields 6 portions

Ingredient Amount
Bread, day old country style or fresh bread, loosely packed, torn into 1-inch pieces 500 ml.
Water, divided use 1.7 liters, or as needed
Garlic, coarsely chopped 15 ml.
Almonds, blanched 500 ml.
Salt, divided use 12 ml.
Sherry vinegar 125 ml.
Olive oil, extra virgin 125 ml.
Grapes, green, medium, halved and seeded, for garnish 16 ea.
Almonds, toasted, sliced 150 ml.

Method

  1. Soak the day-old bread in 220 ml. of water in a medium bowl for 10 minutes. If using fresh bread, there is no need to soak it.
  2. Process the garlic and almonds in a food processor fitted with the steel blade for 1 minute, or until finely ground. Stop halfway through the process to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the soaked bread and any soaking water (or the fresh bread), 2 teaspoons of salt, vinegar, and oil, and blend for 2 minutes longer, or until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a medium nonreactive bowl and stir in the remaining 800 ml. of water (use 1040 ml. if using fresh bread). Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until well chilled.
  4. Stir the soup well, reaching to the bottom of the bowl, just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning with 7.5 ml. of salt or more if desired. Ladle 240 ml. of soup into each chilled soup bowl, garnish with the grapes and toasted, sliced almonds, and serve.

Additional tips

Recipe credit: Teresa Barrenchea, as presented at the Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Presented at Seminar VII A on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006.

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