It’s July in Miami, and the temperatures are crazy-hot pretty much everywhere. Cool things down with Spain’s summer classic, Ajo Blanco. It translates literally as white garlic, but don’t panic, the garlic flavor is mild in this chilled soup, and the texture is lush and velvety, thanks to almonds and old bread.
Ajo Blanco, aka white gazpacho, is the cool, creamy counterpart to the better-known gazpacho, that tomatoey, peppery, cucumbery concoction. I like the idea of this classic gazpacho, but — full disclosure — I’m allergic to cucumber and to everything in the melon family. They’re lovely, mild and cooling, but honey, we do not get along. Almonds, stale bread and garlic and I get along just fine.
Like its relative romesco sauce, Ajo Blanco is yet another lusty example of cocina povera, so-called peasant cookery, making delicious use of every bit of what’s in your kitchen.
Top this summery soup with a few green grapes — sounds strange, but it’s traditional. And naturally vegan.
- 3 slices day-old baguette cut into cubes (just shy of 1 cup)
- 3 cups water
- 3/4 cup raw almonds peeled and soaked overnight*
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves
- 3 to 4 tablespoons wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- green grapes halved, for optional garnish
- Place bread cubes in a bowl, pour the water over and let soak a few minutes.
- Pour everything (save the optional grape garnish) into a blender or food processor. Blitz until absolutely smooth and gorgeous. Taste and add salt and additional vinegar as needed.
- Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. It improves in flavor.
- Serve chilled. To garnish, float halved green grapes, cut side up, on top.