White Gazpacho

With all the hot weather much of the country has been experiencing, we thought we’d suggest a gazpacho, a chilled soup, one that you can make quickly, with minimal use of the stove. Not all gazpachos are made with tomatoes. White gazpacho is a classic dish from Spain, earlier versions dating back to when the Moors controlled Andalucia. This version is made with bread, blanched almonds, green grapes, cucumbers, olive oil, and garlic. Odd combination you might think, but let me assure you, it truly is delicious. There’s no dairy. The soup gets body and protein from the blanched almonds. The bread acts as a thickener. The cucumbers are wonderfully cooling.

The recipe calls for stale bread because this soup is an excellent use of old bread that is too hard to eat. Sometimes when we buy freshly baked bread we don't eat it all, and the leftovers get dry and hard within days. We keep the bread to make bread crumbs. So, this is what you would typically use. If you don't have any old bread lying around, you can use white bread, with the crusts removed. Use a good quality white bread, such as a French or Italian loaf.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of crustless stale bread, broken into pieces
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (use vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup slivered blanched almonds (must be blanched, the skins are bitter)
  • 2 cups green seedless grapes, sliced in half
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1-3 chopped garlic cloves (depending on how garlicky you want the result to be)
  • 2-3 Tbsp sherry vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Chives for garnish

Method

1 Heat the stock until it's steamy. Turn off the heat and add to the stock the broken up pieces of stale bread. Let cool.

2 Put the almonds, salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are pulverized. Add the soaked bread and any stock that was not absorbed by the bread into the food processor, then add the grapes and cucumbers. Pulse until the mixture is a rough purée.

3 Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and pulse a few seconds to combine. Taste and add the other tablespoon if it needs it – grapes can sometimes be acidic enough to leave out the final tablespoon of vinegar.

4 With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Turn off the motor and taste the gazpacho. Add more salt if needed.

Chill before serving, garnish with chopped chives.

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