[recipe] Ajoblanco, cold almond soup

Ajoblanco is one of our favourite summer cold soups, and it’s a little less known than its worldwide famous gazpacho. It’s a traditional dish from Eastern Andalusia – Malaga, Almeria – and it can be found also in the nearby Murcia area. Despite the garlic (ajo) in the name, it’s not a garlic soup, and you can adjust the quantity of garlic to your taste anyway, so go ahead and try it!

It’s great as a starter soup, with some fruit, but you can also make it thicker and use it as a sauce to go with grilled fish such as red mullet (that’s traditional in Almeria) or grilled meats.

Good ingredients are, as usual in a simple recipe, very important. So get nice almonds, good extra virgin olive oil and a nice vinegar: if it’s Sherry vinegar, great, otherwise just use a nice wine vinegar.

ajoblanco cold soup spanish food andalusia

Ajoblanco

for 4 to 6 people

250 g raw almonds
750 ml cold water
100 g white thick bread (not sourdough, it should be very fine and compact), preferably stale – soaked in cold water
1-2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons (or more, to taste) Sherry vinegar or other good red wine vinegar
sweet white grapes, melon, strawberries or raisins (depending on season)

In a food processor grind the almonds until they’re as fine as possible. You can use almond flour, but the result will be better with fresh whole almonds. Add 2-3 spoonfuls of cold water, just enough so the ground almonds resemble thick batter.

Add the bread, the garlic cloves and the salt. Mix until smooth. With the food processor running, add the olive oil first, slowly, and then the water little by little until you reach the desired consistency (it doesn’t have to be the whole 750 ml).

Ajoblanco can be thicker, and used as a sauce, or runnier and eaten as a soup. Depending on the consistency you like you’ll have to adjust the seasoning, but do it at the very end, after it has rested in the fridge and the flavours have developed – also remember that cold temperatures affect your perception of saltiness so just check it before serving.

Pour the ajoblanco in a bowl (or any other container that fits in your fridge) and adjust vinegar and salt. I like to notice a touch of vinegar, which makes a nice contrast with the sweet earthiness of the almonds and the spiciness of the garlic.

Let it rest at least a couple of hours in the fridge. Serve it in individual bowls with sweet fruit as an accompaniment.

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