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Ajo blanco (V)

ajo blanco closeup

Spain's second most famous "cold soup" recipe, after gazpacho. Both rely on the pungency of vinegar and raw garlic for their flavour and deliver a wonderfully refreshing kick on a hot summer day. The addition of grapes may seem odd, but their sweetness provides a great contrast to the piquancy of the garlic.


Serves 6 as a starter


150g ground almonds
200g good white bread, crust removed
2 cloves of garlic
200ml extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp sherry or white wine vinegar

To serve
20 or so green grapes
a few flaked almonds

Tear the bread into chunks and soak in water for around 10 minutes. Squeeze excess water out of the bread and put in a food processor with the almonds and garlic and blitz until well mixed. Add the olive oil in a thin, slow trickle with the processor running, then add the vinegar. Taste for seasoning - you will probably want to add a little salt and perhaps a bit more vinegar.


Pass the mixture through a sieve. This is a bit tedious and time-consuming, but it is quite important if you want to end up with a smooth, elegant soup.


Once sieved, pour the mixture back into the food processor, then add extra water gradually, with the mixer running, until you have the consistency you want. We would normally use around 200ml extra water for this quantity, but you may prefer it thicker, or thinner.


Chill thoroughly, for at least two hours. (If you haven't got that long, use iced water in the previous step.) Slice the grapes in half and divide them up between the soup bowls. Pour the cold soup over the grapes and scatter a few flaked almonds over the top of each bowl.



Photo by Per Magnus Persson

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