Blows You Away "Ajo Blanco" Soup aka White Gazpacho
The creamiest non-dairy, dare I say it, VEGAN soup you could ever hope to eat!
For me the craving started in March when I first read this post illustrated with striking photographs, by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.
I was the first person to leave a comment for Haalo that day:
"That is totally stunning!
The presentation - wow - I am speechless.
I always have those ingredients in my household.
The trouble is I am not sure if it is yet quite warm enough for cold soup."
"Sam - if it's warm enough for white wine it's probably okay weather for this soup. Just served as a shot it's gets the taste buds working."
Haalo lives in the opposite hemisphere. March in San Francisco is definitely not white wine weather. And neither were grapes in season, so I put the Haalo's recipe to the back of my mind. Where it stayed for quite some time.
In June a very intriguing version of White Gazpacho surfaced on my dear friend Catherine's blog. But still I wasn't ready, summer was not yet here enough for me to eat cold soup. So I passed it by.
Finally, at the end of August, my Ajo Blanco intentions were rekindled once more when I read a post by Sean at Hedonia who was recalling a trip to Spain from whence the recipe for this incredible soup originates:
"I don't remember everything we had that day; in fact, I remember only one thing: A white gazpacho. It had never occurred to me that there was any kind of gazpacho other than the tomato-based variety, and I was entranced."
It was then that I realised that the time is now. Six months after being first inspired by the pure, simple beauty of this soup, the seasons had cycled to a point where I was now ready to try it out for myself. I followed Haalo's version of the recipe, adding a little salt and a dash more vinegar. The result was more amazing than I could have imagined. Pungency from the peppery raw garlic was soothed by the cool, creamy texture of the processed nuts and bread which were in turn sharpened and lifted by the vinegar. The sweetness from the grape garnish (I actually added a few more halves between taking the photograph and serving) rounded out this unique soup's taste experience.
Haalo was correct in suggesting that a small shot glass might be enough. The soup is on the rich side and its flavour packs a hearty punch. Definitely something to kick those taste buds into action at the start of a meal. Chilling the soup well before serving is essential to combat its richness. It really couldn't be easier to make - it only took me about 10 minutes from start to finish - but remember to allow an additional several hours chilling time if making this at home.
Finally, - if you ever need to entertain a vegan guest - this soup to start would be impressive. Fred was absolutely convinced he was eating some kind of savoury yoghurt and would barely believe me it didn't contain any dairy. For the record - Fred also thought it tasted wonderful. I almost had to fight him to win the right to take the leftovers to work for lunch earlier today. Luckily for me (although perhaps less so for those colleagues in the neighbouring cubes who may have found its perfume of stinking rose rather potent), I won that particular little battle...
This recipe is dedicated to the memory of Philis Hardeman as her daughter Tami of Running With Tweezers celebrates the memory of her mother's life. Tami's annual Super Soup Challenge takes place between now and September 10th.