Time management is not my strong point, to put it mildly. For example, I have known for weeks that today I would need to post a recipe for a cold soup as part of a group I’m part of on Twitter – a loose consortium of food bloggers dedicated to making a specific kind of dish for lunch once a month and then writing about it.
Furthermore, I have known that I was going to make a white gazpacho before it was featured in The New York Times this week, though in this case my procrastination paid off: I had found a recipe on Epicurious that sounded similar to versions of this soup I’ve had before, but the NYT recipe, from the chef at Casa Mono, seemed even closer, and I ended up using elements of both.
I wanted to make it because a) I love it, b) grapes were coming into season, and c) I am always looking for ways to use the the delicious oil I get from Leblanc.
Grapes. Not grape tomatoes, but grapes.
If you’re like me, then when you hear the word “gazpacho” you probably start seeing red. But while white gazpacho comes from the same part of the world and is served cold like it’s red cousin, it contains no tomatoes or peppers.
This is a soup for olive oil lovers. Almonds, bread, garlic, and grapes are puréed and strained, and a large amount of olive oil is blended in until you have a silky emulsion. A healthy dose of sherry vinegar balances the richness.
The grapes I buy here are not seedless, so I patiently cut each one in half and removed the seeds before blending. Tedious, yes, but necessary: The seeds will make the soup bitter. So will almond skins, so use peeled nuts. Spanish Marcona almonds are authentic and tasty, but regular old almonds will do just fine as long as they are fresh.
Garnished with more grapes and toasted almonds, this soup is a lovely first course. Or serve it with bread and some jamón ibérico and call it lunch.
And then call me. I’ll be right over.
Note: You will need a blender or food processor and a fine strainer.
2 c water
3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 c stale, crustless bread, cut into 1″ pieces
2 c skinless almonds (sliced or whole), toasted, plus some for garnish
2 c white (green) grapes, or a mix of white and red, plus some for garnish
1 to 1 1/2 c olive oil
2 T sherry vinegar, or more as needed
1. In a small pan, bring the water to a boil with the garlic. Remove it from the heat and add the bread. Let it soak for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, if your grapes aren’t already seedless, cut them in half and remove the seeds with the tip of a knife.
2. Put the almonds, grapes, bread and garlic (and the soaking liquid) in a blender or food processor and process until you have a thick puree. Add the olive oil and process until it’s incorporated.
3. Force the puree through a fine strainer. It should be silky and creamy. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and a pinch of cayenne. Chill the soup thoroughly, at least 2 hours.
4. When ready to serve, taste the soup again for seasoning (I usually find at this point that it needs more vinegar). Ladle the soup into chilled bowls and garnish with a few grape halves and toasted almonds. Drizzle with olive oil or almond oil if you like.
Serves 4 as a first course, 2 as a main course.