Tuesday, September 04, 2007

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!

picture photograph image picture photograph image how to make recipe for Ajo Blanco – Chilled Almond Soup or  White Gazpacho 2007 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/

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

Haalo replied:
"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.

Local Resources
Almonds from Alfieri
Bread from Acme
Bronx Grapes from Lagier

Some local foodish blogs I've recently noticed:
The Happy Consumptive
Hip Tastes Blog
I Like What I Eat
Jersey Girls' Guide to Grub

2006 | Harissa Chocolate Almond Tart
2004 | The Coffee Table, Silverlake

© 2007 Sam Breach
Blows You Away "Ajo Blanco" Soup aka White Gazpacho


  • At 4/9/07 21:15, Blogger Catherine said…

    Well, that is awfully pretty, and pleasantly unexpected. I'll have to try this one too!

  • At 4/9/07 21:17, Blogger Barbara said…

    Perfect, now I have a use for the almonds I need to use up before I go away.

  • At 4/9/07 21:57, Blogger evolvingtastes said…

    "That is totally stunning!
    The presentation - wow - I am speechless.
    I always have those ingredients in my household.
    The trouble is I don't have a good excuse to not make the soup now". :=)) Thanks for this good looking recipe, Sam.

  • At 4/9/07 22:11, Blogger Delphine said…

    A-mazing, as usual.

    Do you happen to have ideas for a vegan kosher Hallal careme soup?
    No kidding : I had to make a diner like that once.

    We had pasta.

  • At 5/9/07 03:20, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said…

    I've been seeing all these posts about white gazpacho, too, but haven't made it yet. Guess I needed one more post than you, because yours is the one that will send me into the kitchen!

  • At 5/9/07 03:33, Blogger ChrisB said…

    Now I hope you won't be expecting this standard of fare when you visit !!

  • At 5/9/07 05:31, Blogger Kalyn Denny said…

    Sam, the photo is just wonderful and your post is heartwarming. Just lovely.

  • At 5/9/07 08:22, Blogger Amy Sherman said…

    I think this may have been the very first recipe I ever posted to my blog, just about four years ago.

  • At 5/9/07 08:42, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your pictures are so appealing and lovely! I made this last summer when it was very, very hot and served it garnished with pickled melon and garlic bread crumbs. Totally untradtional, but well, that's kind of my thing ;-)

  • At 5/9/07 10:36, Blogger FaustianBargain said…


    we visited lagiers' almond farm recently...john lagier is the nicest person one can ever meet...i have to look if i have any pictures of his bronx grapes.

    he has also allowed some geese to forage in his property for the roli roti folks. i think they are being reared for xmas...thereabouts... he needs someone to do the cleaning up and they need something to nibble..perfect!

    also like the photography, btw.

  • At 5/9/07 11:03, Blogger Katherine Gray said…

    lovely! i dare say that this may even be kid friendly...

  • At 5/9/07 11:12, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Great shots: the shot of soup and the shot of the soups.
    If I ever wade out from under my current tomato "problem," I'm trying this.

  • At 5/9/07 12:46, Blogger Sam said…

    In an unprecented move on my blog I have to leave myself a commment - after just finishing the last portion of this Ajo Blanco for my lunch at work today I have to reiterate once more how lip-smackingly good this soup tastes and how bummed I am it's now all gone... until I make another batch of course...

  • At 5/9/07 14:54, Blogger Abitofafoodie said…

    This reminds me of the soup we had as a starter at my sister's wedding in a lovely village in Mallorca. It was a hot almond soup though - it was quite rich, but absoltely delicious.
    I also thought gazpacho had to involve tomatoes but earlier tonight I tasted a lemongrass gazpacho served from a test-tube at the opening of a new restaurant. It was an interesting take on one of my favourite summer starters. But this looks much more appealing. I must give it a try.

  • At 5/9/07 15:24, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I like how the gazpacho is presented in glasses! Very nice - thank you.

  • At 5/9/07 15:39, Blogger Haalo said…

    How wonderful - you've captured the spirit of the soup so perfectly. It's one of those eye-widening events when you take the first sip and then wonder where has this soup been all my life!

  • At 5/9/07 17:41, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We've made it three times now. What amazes me is that even very subtle differences in the proportions of the ingredients can make profound differences in the final product. The last time I used grapes that were not quite as sweet, a touch more cayenne and a different bread, and it was an utterly different soup. Though no less delicious.

  • At 6/9/07 04:15, Blogger Jeanne said…

    I have read about this and have been intrigued by the idea - which is a big admission from somebody who has a professed dislike for cold soup! Now with both your and Haalo's descriptions to go by, I can't see that I will be able to avoid makign this - my life simply won't be complete. I will have to schedule a little dinner party in honour of this soup, I think ;-)

  • At 6/9/07 14:31, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Man, this sounds very good. Your site always makes me hungry!

  • At 7/9/07 09:29, Blogger Michael Natkin said…

    That is one of my all time favorite soups! Thanks for reminding me of it, I need to make it again soon.

    Michael Natkin

  • At 14/9/07 16:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Superb photography! Who needs celebrity chefs if bloggers like you do all the real cooking? :-)


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