Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Soups of Summer: Chilled Garlic Soup

Having grown up on Campbell's from the can plopped into a pan and heated to boiling, the idea of a cold soup, much less one made from scratch, was a complete revelation. Cold cucumber soup, along with gazpacho, that crazy good concoction of garden-grown tomatoes and whatever vegetables were in season, were my gateway drugs of choice.

The other night at my friends Judy and Tom's, I got another chilled bowlful of summer to add to the list: a so-called "white gazpacho" that Judy learned to make when Tom was teaching in Spain (see her recipe for feijoada from their Brazil sojourn). Cool and light with that requisite zing from the garlic and a soothing sweetness from halved grapes, this was a perfect starter to a summer evening in the back yard.

It would also be terrific poured into a lidded pitcher and taken on a picnic (or a concert on the lawn) with a rotisserie chicken from the store and maybe a fruit salad with some chilled rosé. Hmmm…do I sound ready for some summer fun?

Sopa de Ajo Blanco

1/2 c. blanched almonds
3-4 slices of large-sized baguette, more if using smaller loaf
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
4 c. water
5 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
16-20 seedless green grapes

Put slices of bread in water to soak. Peel garlic. While bread soaks, put garlic and almonds in processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Squeeze water from bread, tear into pices and add bread and salt to blender. While blending slowly, add oil, vinegar and finally water to blender. Taste, adjusting salt, vinegar and oil to taste. Chill at least 2-3 hours or overnight. Serve grapes on side, or put several in soup bowl and pour soup over grapes. Serves 4.

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