Ajo blanco

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Another version of gazpacho, ajo blanco is a survivor of the medieval moorish cuisine of the Mediterranean. Your first encounter with this cool, silky smooth soup with pale-green grapes and crouton floating on the top will astonish and delight you. This is a chilled version of almond soup which is served with grape halves floating on it. Sherry vinegar is an important ingredient of this Spanish soup consumed by the Jewish sect. The soups are extremely nutritious and contain minerals, vitamins as well as the antioxidants, that can be obtained from raw almonds.

Ingredients:

200 g day-old white crusty bread, crusts removed

150 g whole blanched almonds

3 – 4 garlic cloves, chopped

80 ml sherry vinegar

310 – 375 g vegetable or chicken stock

2 tablespoons olive oil

75 g day-old white crusty bread, extra, crusts removed, cut into 1 cm cubes

200 g small seedless green grapes

aged sherry vinegar, for serving

Preparation:

Soak the bread in cold water for 5 minutes, then squeeze out any excess liquid. process the almonds and garlic in a food processor until well  ground. Add the bread and process until smooth.

With the motor running add the oil in a steady slow stream until the mixture is the consistency of thick mayonnaise (add a little water if the mixture is too thick). Slowly add the sherry vinegar and 310 ml of the stock. Blend for one minute. Season with salt.

Refrigerate for at least two hours. The soup thickens on refrigerations so you may need to add stock or water to thin it.

When ready to serve, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add bread cubes and toss over medium heat for about three minutes, or until golden. Drain on the paper towels.

Serve the soup very cold. Garnish with grapes and bread cubes and sprinkle with aged sherry vinegar if desired.