Updated: Jun 4
Almond gazpacho - Ajo Blanco - is Spain's other famous cold summer soup!
You will love this milky white gazpacho even if you don't like the ubiquitous red version made of blended raw vegetables (I actually don't, truth be told). Ajo Blanco is another kind of thing altogether, spellbindingly good, silky smooth. Made with just bread, almonds, garlic, sherry vinegar, olive oil and water, this soup is as creamy as can be without a single drop of dairy. The soup is best made a day in advance, strained, and stored in the refrigerator so that the flavors can develop and the texture can thicken slightly. Serve this with sliced grapes or a macédoine of summer melon, drizzle with a mild Spanish olive oil, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika. You'll be hooked after just one bite!
3 cups crustless white bread or baguette pieces
1 large garlic clove
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup Marcona almonds or blanched almonds (no skin)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 cups ice water
sliced seedless grapes
pimenton (smoked paprika)
1. Soak the bread pieces in a cup of cold water and set aside.
"It is essential to use crustless bread so that the soup achieves its notable color and texture."
2. Slice the garlic clove, sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and chop and smash until finely minced and a rough paste forms. Set aside. 3. Drain the soaked bread, gently squeezing the bread of excess water.
4. Place the bread in the blender, along with the garlic paste, almonds, sherry vinegar and 2 cups cold water. Blend until smooth, adding the olive oil slowly with the motor running. Add more water if too thick.
5. Check the gazpacho for taste and season with additional kosher salt.
6. Strain the gazpacho through a chinois (or fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth), pressing hard to push the moisture through and leaving the small solids behind.
"Straining the gazpacho will take a few minutes to do it properly so that nothing is wasted and the soup is as smooth and silky as possible."
7. Chill the strained soup overnight in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Before serving, taste the soup and adjust seasoning as needed (a little more kosher salt, a small splash of sherry vinegar).
8. To serve, pour the soup into bowls, top with a few sliced grapes or diced melon, a drizzle of mild olive oil, and a sprinkling of pimenton.
Makes 4 appetizer servings.