White Gazpacho

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Although both hail from Andalusia, Spain, white gazpacho bears little resemblance to its familiar, vegetable-laden red cousin. White gazpacho, or ajo blanco , was originally made by peasants with five simple ingredients at their disposal: stale bread, garlic, vinegar, oil, and salt. They pounded the bread with a mortar and pestle, added slugs of vinegar and olive oil, and then stirred in water to make the mixture drinkable. When the dish made its way onto aristocratic tables, upscale ingredients like almonds and grapes were added, giving the soup nuanced flavor and sophisticated textural contrast. However, the versions we tried were watery and bland or even grainy. We discovered that the order in which we added ingredients to the blender made all the difference: First, we ground almonds, then we added bread (which we had briefly soaked in water), garlic, sherry vinegar, salt, and cayenne. Then we slowly drizzled in the water and olive oil. To amplify the almond flavor without overwhelming the soup, we mixed a tablespoon of the pureed soup with a small amount of almond extract, then added a teaspoon of the mixture back to the soup. Sliced green grapes and toasted almonds added fruitiness and crunch, and a final drizzle of olive oil made for a rich finish and an elegant presentation. This rich soup is best when served in small portions (about 6 ounces). Use a premium-quality extra-virgin olive oil; our favorite is Gaea Fresh Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.

6 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed

4 cups water

2½ cups (8¾ ounces) plus ⅓ cup sliced blanched almonds

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt and pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

½ cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

⅛  teaspoon almond extract

6 ounces seedless green grapes, sliced thin (1 cup)

  1. Combine bread and water in bowl and let soak for 5 minutes. Process 2½ cups almonds in blender until finely ground, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. Using your hands, remove bread from water, squeeze it lightly, and transfer to blender with almonds. Measure out 3 cups soaking water and set aside; transfer remaining soaking water to blender. Add garlic, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and cayenne to blender and process until mixture has consistency of cake batter, 30 to 45 seconds. With blender running, add ½ cup oil in thin, steady stream, about 30 seconds. Add reserved soaking water and process for 1 minute.
  2. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste, then strain through fine-mesh strainer into bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
  3. Transfer 1 tablespoon soup to separate bowl and stir in almond extract. Return 1 teaspoon extract-soup mixture to soup; discard remaining mixture. Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add remaining ⅓ cup almonds and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer almonds to bowl, stir in ¼ teaspoon salt, and let cool slightly.
  5. Ladle soup into shallow bowls. Mound grapes in center of each bowl, sprinkle with almonds, and drizzle with extra oil.


Soups & Stews