white garlic soup with garlic bruschetta (ajo blanco)

glorious garlic by Marja Flick-Buijs
A lovely, sophisticated chilled soup is a version of the classic Moorish influenced white garlic soup from Southern Spain. If you like garlic, you will love this. I had a shot glass of this at a sherry and tapas tasting, sitting in a sunlit courtyard in Spitalfields. While it was like being hammered by a garlic mallet, it was absolutely delicious with a crisp dry sherry to accompany it.

It is often known as “white gazpacho” and is the Malagan version of Andalucía’s gazpacho and, instead of using tomatoes and peppers, it makes use of almonds and stale bread. I like to think of the this as being the soup that was eaten before the discovery of the New World and new fruits and vegetables. In past times, this soup was chilled by adding ice-cold water from a deep well, but now chilling in the fridge will do just as well. Purists would be aghast at the use of ice!

Serves 6 (makes about 1½ litres)
Skill level: Easy

ingredients:
soup
200g crustless, stale rustic bread (preferably sourdough), soaked in water, then squeezed dry and roughly chopped
400g blanched almonds
4 x garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
100ml olive oil
50ml sherry vinegar, or to taste or fresh lemon juice
1½ litre iced water
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 x handful of Muscat or other sweet white or sweet black grapes, thinly sliced, to serve
almond oil (optional - see tip)

bruschetta
1 x head of garlic
3 x slices of rustic bread
olive oil, to drizzle

directions
  1. Put the blanched almonds, garlic, bread, olive oil and 1 litre of iced water into a food processor and blend well until smooth.
  2. Season to taste with sherry vinegar (or lemon juice), salt and freshly ground white pepper.
  3. Transfer to a jug and cover with clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for about 2-3 hours.
  4. Stir soup, then ladle among bowls. It is traditional to serve this soup with sweet white Muscat grapes scattered over, but you could use sweet black grapes as well; it may not be traditional but gives the whole dish a more dramatic colour.
  5. Drizzle with almond oil and serve immediately with hot bruschetta toasts.
  6. To prepare the garlic bruschetta, preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/180C.
  7. Take a sharp knife and slice off the top of the head of garlic. Place on a piece of foil (large enough to completely wrap the garlic). Drizzle the bulb with a little olive oil, wrap loosely in the foil.
  8. Place on a baking tray and roast until the garlic has softened, about 40-50 minutes.
  9. Lightly toast the bread on each side.
  10. Squeeze the garlic purée out of the roasted cloves and spread on one side of the toast. Cut the toast into fat fingers and serve hot, with the soup.
tip:
  • Almond oil can be found in health food stores and some of the larger supermarkets.

2 comments:

  1. I can´t keep up with you. two posts a day and serious quality writing. I want to make this one too; what´s your secret?

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  2. You are making me blush! But seriously thank you for your very kind words!

    My secret . . . well, I commute to work by bus - every morning it takes an hour each way. I used to spend my time with my nose in a book devouring it ... but now I just write. Random thoughts. I then spend a few minutes or a few days putting them into some order!

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