Andalusian Garlic-Almond Soup (Ajo Blanco)

Serves 2

This classic cold white Spanish soup of puréed garlic, bread, and almonds with a dash of sherry vinegar is a perfect antidote to hot days. It’s easily doubled to serve four. My kids and I were introduced to it during a cooking class in Seville with Amelia Gómez and have enjoyed it countless times.

Grapes are the traditional garnish to balance the garlic, but small cubes of watermelon or apple are also used today. Ajo blanco is said to have originated in the Roman colony of Hispalis (today’s Seville), where almond milk was consumed in large amounts.

2 cups stale or lightly toasted country bread, crusts removed, torn in pieces
1 1/3 cups cold water, plus 1/2 cup additional water if needed
3/4 cup blanched almonds
1 1/2 to 2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 1/2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar, or to taste
About 10 red or green seedless grapes, cut in half, or small cubes of watermelon for garnish

  1. In a bowl, combine the bread with 1 1/3 cups water and soak until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the bread and squeeze gently, reserving the water. Combine the bread with the almonds and garlic in a food processor and pulse until chunky-smooth. Add the water and blend until smooth.
  2. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil and blend. Add the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste; process until the mixture is thin and smooth. Taste to adjust the flavors, adding up to 1/2 cup more water, as needed. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold. Ladle the soup into two bowls, add the grapes or watermelon, and serve.

From Soup for Two: Small-Batch Recipes for One, Two or a Few