Ajoblanco literally means "white garlic", but I´ve seen it translated as "white gazpacho" (which it isn´t) and "almond gazpacho" (which it is, kind of). It sounds more chic that way, I guess, and that´s fine by me, because this is one very chic chilled soup, having almonds as a main ingredient, and being served with fruit floating inside. I also happen to think that the colour of ajoblanco is particulary beautiful, being of a very luminous warm white, nothing like the creamy white of a vichyssoise, or the eggshell of horchata.
Gazpacho will always remain the favourite, because you really can´t beat a bowl of gazpacho on a hot day. But ajoblanco makes for a welcome change, being light and refreshing and, well, not gazpacho, which you might appreciate if you´ve been having it for lunch every single day of every summer.
This here recipe is my adaptation of the one in 1080 recetas. Basically, it´s just the same, but with half the oil. The one in Moro has lots more almonds and way less bread, which I daresay is lovely and luxurious, but since at home we´ve always made the 1080 one, and it´s so good, I haven´t bothered to try the Moro way.
The traditional way is to serve this with grapes floating inside, and maybe a drizzle of precious fruity olive oil. I was all out of grapes, or apples or melon (traditional subsitutes too), so we stoned a few cherries, and it was not only a delicious alternative, but very pretty. The fruit juice made pink swirls in the soup. I think I may have stumbled on a new classic.
Ajoblanco con cerezas
150 gr. raw almonds, without skins. You can buy them ready ground, too.
Garlic (one or two cloves, your call. I suggest you start easy and add more as you go)
100 ml. good olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
200 gr. bread, crusts off, stale if you have it but don´t go crazy if you don´t
salt to taste,
and grapes, cubes of Granny Smith apples, melon or stoned cherries to serve.
Soak the bread in water if it´s stale, and if not then don´t bother.
Throw the almonds into a food processor and grind them as finely as possible. Now add the garlic, bread (squeezed out if it was soaked), salt, olive oil and a bit of water and pulse til you have a paste.
Add iced water and pulse again, and then just add water until you have the consistency you like. I think ajoblanco should be thin and drinkable, like gazpacho, but there is a school of thought that favours the spoonable, slightly thicker stuff.
Add the vinegar, adjust the salt, and chill it thoroughly.
When it´s time to eat, check again for salt and vinegar, since the cold might have numbed their taste. Serve in soup bowls, scatter a few seeded grapes or stoned cherries, and leave the olive oil on the table for the drizzlers.
The image is courtesy of Agitado no batido , advertisers extraordinaire and its legal owners.