Known as the ‘white gazpacho’, ajo blanco is perfect for warm weather menus; Try this refreshing and simple andalusian specialty at your next gathering.
On the 2nd of September of every year, a festival celebrating ajo blanco is held in the town of Almáchar in Málaga. Thousands of visitors flock to the andalusian town to try the delicious cold soup that has been prepared in the region for hundreds of years. Also found in Granada, Almeria, and indeed other parts of Spain; ajo blanco literally translates as ‘white garlic’ and is often referred to as ‘white gazpacho’ as it indeed is in many ways a white version of the tomato based andalusian variety.
Still containing the simple ingredients of garlic, bread, water and oil, ajo blanco replaces tomatoes with the region’s famous almonds for a creamy and delicately flavoured white soup. Traditionally pounded with a mortar and pestle then chilled with cold well water, the invention of the food processor and refrigerator now makes preparing this soup a breeze. Thickened with stale white bread, and garnished with some sweet white grapes, this beautiful cold soup makes a refreshing and elegant addition to the menu as the weather warms up.
Recipe for Ajo Blanco (White Gazpacho)
Medium sized heatproof bowl.
Food processor/blender or a large mortar and pestle
4 soup bowls.
200g unblanched almonds
200ml (7 fl oz) olive oil
200g (7oz) stale white bread, crusts removed
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons of mild, quality salt (Maldon, Murray River etc)
2 scant teaspoons of sherry vinegar (vinagre de jerez)
350ml (12 fl oz ) chilled water
100g grapes OR 150g green melon, balled, OR 1 peeled green apple, cored and thinly sliced.
Method for Making Ajo Blanco
Firstly, chill 12 fl oz (340 ml) of water in the refrigerator.
To blanch the almonds, boil a kettle and place them in the heatproof bowl. Cover the almonds with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes, then drain the bowl in a colander; the skins should rub off easily.
Soak the stale bread in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes or so, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
In a food processor (or large mortar if using a mortar and pestle), combine the almonds, bread, garlic, salt and vinegar. Process until smooth, then with the motor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Once well combined, follow this method to gradually add and combine the chilled water.
Pour into soup bowls, cover with cling-wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or until ready to serve.
Garnish with the fruit and a drizzle of olive oil.
Other traditional ways of serving ajo blanco are with toasted slivered almonds and chopped parsley, or with anchovies and a baked potato on the side, as commonly eaten in Granada.
If serving wine, a crisp white wine will compliment the ajo blanco on a hot day, or alternatively go the traditional route with a glass of dry sherry.