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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find this recipe in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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(Spanish--Central Andalusian Cold Almond Soup)

Ajoblanco, according to recipe contributor José Luis Vivas, is a Weight Watcher's worst nightmare. Thanks to the high energy contents of the almonds and bread, it is a caloric bomb. In fact, he says, these soups were usually consumed by country laborers in Andalusia during the harvest months as a mid-morning snack. They would have breakfast very early (5:00 AM) and about 11:00 they stopped to prepare the soup (or have someone bring it from the house), take it and brace themselves for temperatures above 95° F from noon onwards. Logically, they stopped about 14:00 and had some light lunch... and a siesta, unless they were picking cotton and a storm was on the way.

The soup is wonderful--refreshing and very "drinkable" in texture, with unexpected richness, depth of flavor, and true savoriness. Hard to believe it's so bad for you. Serve cold to 6-8 people.

  • 250 grams (it's a lot, about a half a pound) crusty white bread--with the crusts cut off
  • water, to soak the bread thoroughly
  • 100 grams raw (not toasted) peeled almonds (to peel, dip them for a few seconds in openly boiling water then pop them off with a squeeze)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 litres (7 cups) cold water
  • 200 cc (1 large cup) olive oil
  • Vinegar (red wine or sherry vinegar preferred)

Garnish: In Málaga it is customary to serve it with peeled and seeded grapes, or apple slices. Melon, small shrimps or sliced, roasted almonds also go very well with this soup.

Soak the bread in water. With a powerful blender, grind the almonds, together with the garlic and a little salt, as fine as you can (the finer they are ground, the creamier the result will be). Then add the soaked bread and blend until you get a white homogeneous paste. Still blending, add the oil in a thread, as you would in a mayonnaise, and then the vinegar (for the quantity, follow your taste, but just a spritz is sufficient--otherwise you will mask the taste) and the water. Adding the oil and water must be done slowly: you want a smooth emulsion, not curd!

That's it. Serve it very cold--and with the garnish of your choice: sliced and seeded grapes, or apple slices, or melon, or small shrimps or even sliced, roasted almonds.