Ajo Blanco – Chilled Almond Soup
My friend Neville, who has a house in Andalusia surrounded by almond trees, gave me this supremely wonderful recipe for Chilled Almond Soup, generously laced with garlic, that is made by the locals who live there. You can make it up to five days ahead – as Neville says, it goes on improving in flavour.
First you need to blanch the almonds. To do this, place them in a heatproof bowl, pour in enough boiling water to cover and leave them aside for 3-4 minutes. Then drain them in a colander and simply squeeze the nuts out of their skins into the bowl.
After that, put the almonds in the blender and pour in the olive oil. (The oil should just cover the almonds – if it doesn’t, add a little more.) Then, add the garlic, vinegar and salt and liquidise until everything is smooth. Now, with the motor still running, slowly add about 12 fl oz (340 ml) cold water.
Pour the soup into a large bowl and if it seems too thick, add a little more water. Then cover the bowl with clingfilm and keep it well chilled until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving, stir in the ice cubes and ladle the soup into the chilled bowls. Garnish with the grapes and apple slices.