The ajoblanco can be considered one of the original cold soups that are so traditional in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Less famous than the gazpachos or salmorejos, the ajoblanco is refreshing and full of flavour.
Imagine yourself for a second having to work in the Southern Spanish fields, sunrise to sunset, under a suffocating temperature of 40ºC, sometimes more. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? However that is precisely what Andalusian farmers have done for thousands of years. And in order to feed themselves whilst avoiding dehydration under such high temperatures, nothing better than a cold soup! Nothing better than a good ajoblanco!
The ajoblanco is one of those traditional dishes that belongs to the well-rooted tradition of Andalusian cold soups. Perhaps others such as the gazpacho or the salmorejo are better known these days, although it is the ajoblanco that came first, dating back from a time when tomatoes had not arrived yet from South America.
This peasant recipe is generally made of bread, water, oil, vinegar, garlic and almonds, although there are records of poor areas where the almonds were replaced by dry broad beans flour. Its origin can be traced back to some popular Roman soups made of vinegar, oil and bread, all in equal parts. But it was the Arab cuisine with its huge use of almonds that definitely influenced this recipe to take it into what we know today as ajoblanco.
So go ahead and get yourself this super easy and quick-to-prepare ajoblanco. Put it in the fridge and serve it super cold and together with some moscatel grapes and/or some bits of melon. It might be the first one but I promise you it won’t be the last one!
- 200 g Almonds – Peeled
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 100 g White bread – Stale bread is much better! Ideally from a white sourdough loaf, soaked overnight.
- 900 ml Mineral water
- 70 g Extra virgin olive oil
- 30 g Sherry vinegar
- 16 Moscatel grapes – alternatively any other sweet white variety
- 0.25 Canteloupe melon
- Salt – to taste
- Soak the stale bread overnight or at the very least for 10-15 minutes if you are in a rush.
- Blanch the almonds and peel them (unless of course you’re using already peeled almonds!). Toast them slightly to enhance their flavour but be careful not to over toast them or they will add colour to our otherwise beautifully white ajoblanco.
- Squeeze the bread and put it into a food processor or a blender. Add the almonds, the garlic and a dash of water. Blend thoroughly until you get a very fine paste. With the motor still running keep adding the rest of the water, the vinegar and finally the oil, little by little, so it emulsifies properly.
- Season to taste and sieve once or twice in order to get a super fine and smooth cream. Chill for at least 90 minutes — although it will taste much better if you leave in the fridge overnight.
- For the garnish, extract some little balls from the melon and halve some grapes. Mix them and place them in a serving pasta plate before pouring the ajoblanco until they are half covered. Drizzle with some drops of extra virgin olive oil and serve well chilled.