Ajo Blanco

Is autumn already lapping at summer’s heels where you live? Where I live, crisp fall days can’t be counted on until Halloween, and September can hold some intensely warm days. That means chilled soups still have a place on the menu, and this one is not only refreshing and simple to make; it also gets bonus points for making delicious use of the leftover bread I always seem to have hanging around.

Ajo Blanco is a garlicky Spanish soup that gets its non-dairy creaminess from blanched almonds, and additional body from the bread. The traditional garnish is green grapes but Penelop Casas, in La Cocina de Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain, suggests green melon balls, which I found to be a lovely alternative.

Ajo Blanco

Yield: 4 servings

Time:

  • Blend: 10 minutes
  • Chill: several hours

Ingredients:

  • 200 g decrusted stale bread, sliced
  • approximately 1 cup water
  • 200 g blanched almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 t. Kosher salt
  • 25 g sherry vinegar
  • 65 g olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 570 g ice water
  • small green melon balls or grapes for garnish

Method:

  1. Soak the bread in the 1 cup of water for 5 minutes to soften it. Squeeze out as much of the water as you can.
  2. Place the bread, almonds, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a large food processor. Process until the almonds are very finely ground.
  3. Add the vinegar and process until smooth.
  4. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream.
  5. Again with the processor running, add the ice water.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and chill for several hours, until ice cold.
  7. To serve, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a melon ball or two.

Post a comment » 12 Comments

  1. I make that all the time for summer, did it in Istanbul, they bugged out! Ver jus is nice in it too, gives that grape nuance! Penelope doesn’t use garlic?

    Jeremy

  2. Stale bread! This is lovely but yes I’d be looking for garlic. The melon ball is perfect!

  3. Wow, what a beautiful soup Susan.

  4. Looks wonderful! I just came across a similar recipe when I was looking through the New Spanish Table it looked intriguing – after seeing this post I’ll have to try it!

  5. have you ever made Chiles en Nogada? the sauce reminds me of your soup, although it’s made with pureed blanched walnuts rather than almonds… mmmmm

  6. oh, this is delicious. we were just talking about making this next weekend, but now I think I will use your recipe.

  7. wow, I was just planning to make this. now I will use your recipe instead.

  8. I’m skeptical: bread, almond, and garlic soup? I like the idea of using the almond for creaminess, though.

  9. Yum. I really like Penelope Casas’ books.
    I’d probably leave the stale crust on if I make this… I have a thing for tough and chewy bread crusts :)

  10. This is very unusual for us. Thanks for the introduction! I can imagine the taste of almonds and bread but can’t really imagine the rest! Any ideas what I can replace the sherry vinegar with, if I make this one?

  11. i have peanut butter. it may work as a substitute, i guess, for the almonds.

    grapes?? interesting. i’d always thought melon was traditional. either one will surely be delicious.

  12. Hi! This recipe is typical of Malaga (Costa del Sol) and the south of Spain (Andalusia). Some chefs add one ball of red wine ice. Huummm! Taste! Red and white, very cossy. Ah! never milk cream.

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