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Ajo blanco

Ajo blanco
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

A cold soup made from bread, nuts, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and water? This sounds more like something you'd make after cleaning your pantry than, well, on purpose. But one taste of Andalusia's tantalizing ajo blanco can turn a skeptic ... Read more

Total time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time | Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 cups water
  • 7 ounces blanched almonds
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 cups mineral or spring water
  • 3 ounces white bread
  • 1/2 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 boquerones (vinegar-marinated anchovies), cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pear, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice

Step 1Combine 1 cup of water, the almonds and the garlic in a medium pot and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a boil, drain.

Step 2Pour a fresh cup of water into the pot and add the drained almonds and garlic; bring to a boil. Drain once again. By now the garlic will have lost much of its strength and the almonds will be softened.

Step 3Place the garlic and almonds in a blender. Add the mineral water, bread, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth.

Step 4Place a colander over a large bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Pour the soup into the colander. Once most of the liquid has passed through the colander, gather the cheesecloth around the remaining solids and squeeze gently to release as much liquid as possible from the solids. Discard the solids.

Step 5Pour the soup into a pitcher and chill for at least 30 minutes (several hours is even better). Before serving, if necessary, thin the soup with water to the consistency of cream.

Step 6Divide the boquerones into four or six portions. Serve the soup in small soup bowls garnished in the middle with a tablespoon of diced pear and the boquerones, and a swirl of olive oil.

Note: Recipe adapted from Ajo blanco Malagueño (almond, garlic and grapes gazpacho) in “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America” by José Andrés with Richard Wolffe. The idea for the garnish comes from the Madrid restaurant La Tasquita de Enfrente. If you have the time, Andres suggests soaking the almonds overnight in mineral water to cover. It helps bring out the almond's natural milk, he says.


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