This is a fusion of two of the most well-known Spanish summer soups: Gazpacho and Ajo Blanco. Gazpacho is traditionally a tomato based chilled vegetable soup and Ajo Blanco is a white version, also served chilled, made with almonds, garlic and olive oil.
They have their roots in southern Andalucia from around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga and they are both believed to have originated with the Moors.
I was looking for white grape recipes because I walk by these bunches of Moscatel grapes every morning watching them grow sweeter and darker with the heat of the sun.
I found a recipe for White Grape Gazpacho which I really liked the idea of. I have to admit that I am not all that fond of cold soup, in fact I never eat it. I realise that this is sacrilege coming from the birthplace of Gazpacho but I can’t help it, I’ve tried and I’m just not feeling it. I don’t like olives either, I know, por dios!
For some strange reason the fact that it was a cold soup with fruit, rather than vegetables, made it more appealing to me. It may have been to do with the soaring temperatures and the inability to think about eating anything even the slightest bit warm. Whatever the explanation, I was happy to try it.
I’m so glad I did, this is a really refreshing soup. It has to be really cold though, I mean ice-cold, and you have to eat it quickly before it starts to get warm.
The Ajo Blanco cream came to me because I thought it needed a swirl of something on top. You could use creme fraiche but it’s a bit French and I saw Rick Stein making (well he was actually watching someone else making) Ajo Blanco on his new series, A Taste of Spain. The traditional garnish is some Moscatel grapes. So I decided to turn the tables and use Ajo Blanco as my garnish on the White Grape Gazpacho. The two work so well together.
This would make a really elegant summer starter/appetizer for entertaining. It looks impressive but is surprisingly easy. Just chill and serve.
White Grape Gazpacho with Ajo Blanco Cream
For the White Grape Gazpacho:
- 350 gr white grapes (moscatel would be lovely, deseeded) I used seedless. Plus extra for garnish, halved
- 10/12 mint leaves, finely chopped
- a small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 English cucumber (1 Spanish pepino) peeled and diced
- 2 or 3 spring onions (1 small cebolleta), finely chopped
- 220 ml (1 cup) veg stock
- 220 ml (1 cup) iced water (I use 3 ice cubes crushed, and water)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Mix all the ingredients apart from the stock and water together in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Remove three-quarters of the mix to a food processor, pulse a few times then add the stock and iced water and process until it liquid but still with some texture. Then add in the rest of the ingredients from the bowl and pulse once more. Taste for seasoning and chill for at least 2 hours. Put your serving bowls in the freezer to chill too.
For the Ajo Blanco Cream:
- 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 3 tbsp extra virgen olive oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 50-75 ml (1/2-3/4 cup) cold water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish
Put the ground almonds, garlic and sherry vinegar in a food processor and blend. Then add the olive oil and blend to a smooth paste. Add the water, a bit at a time until you reach the consistency of thick pouring cream. Season with the salt, taste, cover and chill for 2 hours.
To serve, ladle the cold Grape Gazpacho soup into the frozen bowls and top with a generous swirl of the Ajo Blanco cream. Top with a few halved grapes and some of the toasted flaked almonds.
Things That Made Me Smile Today……
A lone goat wandering down the middle of the road. We stopped the car to say hello, she was very friendly!
Rufus looking very serious, “Stop taking pictures of me!”
Have a great weekend,