White Gazpacho

Here’s another no-cook recipe, for a white gazpacho. We tend to associate gazpacho with tomatoes, but white gazpacho-like soups are beloved in parts of Spain. The usual garnish is grapes, and when local grapes arrive at the market late summer, that’s a wonderful classic to try. Here’s another idea: make a light meal of white gazpacho accompanied by little dishes of diced raw vegetables, and let people help themselves and finish the soup to their liking.

White Gazpacho
4 slices several-day-old white bread, crusts removed (about 4 oz.)
3/4 (three-quarters) cup blanched slivered almonds
2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on size and how much you like garlic
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. or so red wine or sherry vinegar
salt to taste
2 cups icy water, plus soaking water
1/3 (one-third) cup each diced tomato, cucumber, green or red pepper, scallions or red onion and chopped cilantro.

Soak torn-up bread in cold water to cover for at least half an hour.  Meanwhile mince garlic with ¼ (quarter) teaspoon of salt until pasty. Put slivered almonds in blender or processor and pulse to very finely chop. Add garlic, pulse again. Gently squeeze excess water from bread and crumble into blender or processor. Pulse to blend, helping the mixture get going with spoonfuls of the bread-soaking water if necessary, and blend everything to a creamy paste, the smoother the better.  With the machine running, gradually stream in the oil, and add half the vinegar. Then blend in enough icy water to make a soup the consistency of light cream. You may want to thin out soup in two batches if your machine doesn’t have a large bowl.

Season soup with salt and more vinegar to taste. (For the smoothest soup, consider passing it through a fine sieve. Only if you’re a perfectionist.) Allow soup to chill and mellow in fridge for several hours if time. Serve cold in soup plates alongside small bowls of diced raw vegetables, chopped onion and cilantro and let everyone add their own garnishes to their soup plate.

Serves 4.

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