White Gazpacho (Ajo Blanco)
<TABLE class=size11 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=570 border=0><TBODY><TR id=blockRow><TD class=size11 align=left>Almonds, garlic, bread and... grapes? What kind of strange brew is this? If you're willing to take a chance on this creamy, refreshing cold summer soup, you'll discover a dish destined to become one of your all-time favorites. An added bonus: it's a great way to turn that beginning-to-go-stale bread into something more than bread crumbs. Trust us; this soup is great. (Particularly if you're a garlic lover.)
Ajo Blanco, "white garlic," has long been a favorite summer soup in the Malaga, Spain region. While more traditional versions do without the chicken stock and croutons, this one has always been my favorite. Step-by-step photos illustrating how to make this soup are available at Bakers’ Banter, our King Arthur blog.
</TD></TR><TR id=blockRow><TD class=size11 align=left>Soup
8 to 10 slices (about 10 ounces) stale white bread
2 cups (8 3/4 ounces) blanched slivered almonds
6 to 9 cloves garlic (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) olive oil
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red wine vinegar
2 cups (or one 14-ounce can) chicken broth
1 1/2 to 2 cups (12 to 16 ounces) ice water
12 slices stale white bread (a 1-pound loaf), cut into crouton-sized cubes
2 to 3 tablespoons (7/8 ounce to 1 1/4 ounces) olive oil
1 large bunch seedless green grapes
</TD></TR><TR id=blockRow><TD class=size11 align=left>For soup: Combine the 8 to 10 slices stale white bread and cold water to cover in a small bowl. Let sit until bread is soaked, about 5 to 10 minutes. Squeeze water from bread, set bread aside, and discard water.
Combine almonds, garlic, and salt in a large-sized food processor or blender. Process until almonds are completely ground. Add soaked bread; process till smooth. With motor running, gradually add oil, then vinegar. Process, stopping to scrape sides of bowl occasionally, until mixture is smooth.
Add the 2 cups of broth, and blend again until smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups of the water, stir, then thin the soup with additional water, if desired. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
For garnish: Drizzle the bottom of a large baking sheet with olive oil. Toss the bread cubes with olive oil, and place them on the baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until the cubes are crisp and light golden brown.
To serve: Remove soup from refrigerator and stir a few times to make sure all the elements are combined. Ladle into bowls, and top with generous amounts of croutons and green grapes. Makes about 9 cups, about 8 servings.
Just A Hint... Bring creamed soup to the table in a pitcher. That way each family member, or guest, can serve him- or herself just the right amount. Also, a pitcher is usually less messy than a bowl and ladle, takes up less space, and is easier for kids to handle without spilling. Well...without spilling too much.
</TD></TR><TR id=blockRow><TD class=size11 align=left>This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. II, No. 7, July 1991 issue.
</TD></TR><TR id=lastRow><TD class=size9 align=left>©2007 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.