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.
Yield: 4 servings
- Blend: 10 minutes
- Chill: several hours
- 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
- 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.
- Place the bread, almonds, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a large food processor. Process until the almonds are very finely ground.
- Add the vinegar and process until smooth.
- With the processor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream.
- Again with the processor running, add the ice water.
- Transfer to a bowl and chill for several hours, until ice cold.
- To serve, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a melon ball or two.