Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chilled Almond Soup--From Spain

I used to think that there were very few cold soups in the world because, unlike warm soups, they cannot be made from anything. I also believed that I already knew most of them. But then I keep stumbling on new recipes for cold soups I have never heard of or expected that the ingredients that are used to make them can yield something so interesting and delicious.

I had one such discovery with the cold tomatillo soup, which now is on my regular repertoire for hot summer days. But my most recent discovery is the cold almond soup. I noticed it in a tiny Spanish cuisine book and then again in the culinary section of Metropolitan Home.

I tried this soup for the first time a month ago when the weather in Washington was unbearably hot. Incidentally, I also happened to be on a liquid diet at that time and was looking for protein-rich food that could be made liquid. Ground almonds in that recipe seemed a perfect solution.

So I must warn you that, unlike most other cold soups, this one in not particularly light. A small amount will make a very filling serving. But its unique taste made me reach back for this recipe already twice. You can use the regular skinned almonds but if you have Marcona almonds, which the original recipe calls for, I encourage you to use them. Their taste makes quite a difference.

Chilled Almond Soup
(Serves six)

1/4 lb one day-old firm white bread,
3 garlic cloves minced,
1 cup skinned, toasted Marcona almonds,
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil,
1/4 green grapes, seedless,
1/4 cup crème fraîche or crema fresca,
1 and 1/2 cup water,
3 tbsp white vine vinegar,
sea salt and white pepper to taste.

Extra ingredients for garnish:
5 tsp of olive oil,
12 grapes cut in half,
12 Marcona almonds.

1. Put the bread in a medium bowl and cover with water. Let it soak for 30 minutes until soft. Squeeze it gently out in hands to get rid of the water but leave the bread still moist.
2. In a food processor purée garlic, almonds, and olive oil. Add grapes, bread, crème fraîche and water to make smooth purée consistency of heavy cream.
3. Season with salt and peeper. Cover and chill.
4. Before serving divide soup between small bowls, garnish with olive oil, grapes, and almonds, and serve.