Ajo Blanco | Cold Almond Soup-Late Summer and Early Autumn

This cold almond soup is ajo blanco is the mother of tomato gazpacho. Gazpacho originated in Spain. It is a fusion of ingredients tracing Spain's history. When the Moors arrived almonds were added and when Columbus returned from America tomatoes and peppers were added; the cucumbers came from Asia. This soup is proof the simplest foods are the most comforting and taste best. A cool and gentle dish for a hot summer's day. Serve with a dry rose wine.

Makes about 3.5 cups

7 ounces blanched almonds
2 clove garlic, peeled
3 cups filtered water
2 cups stale white country bread cut into cubes, soaked in water until soft
1/2 cup Atlas Peak extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Seedless grapes(red or green), cut in half or peeled and left whole

1. Combine almonds and garlic in a small sauce pan cover with water and bring to a boil. Drain the water and reserve the almonds and garlic. Add cold water to cover almonds and garlic, bring to a boil again. Drain water and reserve the almonds and garlic.

2. Place almond, garlic, salt and about 1 cup of the water in a blender, blend until smooth. Squeeze bread cubes to remove excess water and add the bread. Add a little more water to loosen up the mixture so it will blend to a smooth consistency.

3. While the blender is running slowly add the olive oil to it to emulsify with the other ingredients, add the vinegar and the rest of the water. Place a fine sieve over a large bowl; strain the mixture to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and pour the soup into a pitcher and chill for at least 30 minutes.

To serve pour into a shallow bowl and garnish with the grapes.

©Julie Logue-Riordan 2009

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Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie