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White Gazpacho with Grapes

This creamy soup is a staple in southern Spain, particularly around the area of Málaga. Finely ground almonds give the soup body, while green grapes impart a refreshing contrast to its vinegary tang. Leaving the crust on the bread enhances the flavor of this chilled soup.

Ingredients:

  • One 6-inch piece of baguette
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched sliced almonds, plus 2 Tbs. for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups ice water
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apple

Directions:

In a large bowl, soak the bread in cold water until soft, about 1 minute, then drain. Tear into several chunks and squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the 1 1/2 cups almonds, the garlic, olive oil and 1 cup of the ice water. Process until the nuts are very finely ground, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Add the bread. With the motor running, pour in the remaining 2 cups ice water in a slow, steady stream. Process until the soup has the consistency of light cream, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the wine, white wine vinegar and sherry vinegar and process just to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the soup into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Just before serving, in a small, dry fry pan over medium heat, toast the 2 Tbs. almonds, stirring constantly, until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer immediately to a plate and let cool. The chilled soup will be thick as stirred yogurt. If desired, thin it with ice water back to the consistency of cream. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Stir in the grapes and apples. Ladle the soup into chilled bowls, add the almonds and a few grinds of pepper for garnish and serve. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking, by Charity Ferreira, Dana Jacobi & Carolyn Miller (Oxmoor House, 2008).