Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ajo Blanco

Tanzania makes it 106, welcome!

We're experiencing a bit of a heat wave here in the UK so a perfect cooling soup to make if ajo blanco. I make this soup a day before serving when I can, the overnight rest in the fridge allows the flavours to further develop. The soup keeps perfectly well for 3 or 4 days in the fridge and I find in that time the flavour keeps improving. Ajo is the Spanish word for garlic and as such I think the garlic flavour should be one the predominant flavours, I take a whole head of garlic and apart from 2 fat cloves I blanch the others in boiling water for 5 minutes just to take off the raw flavour. This will boost the garlic flavour whereas adding more raw garlic in my opinion produces too harsh a flavour. I always blanch almonds for this and most recipes, it's an easy thing to do and the benefit is well worth the little effort.

For this recipe you will need;
300g of almonds with there skins on
200ml of good extra virgin olive oil
100g of good sourdough white bread
1 whole head of garlic, possibly more depending on size
1 dessertspoon of sherry vinegar
1 dessertspoon of dry sherry
1 small cucumber peeled
2 teaspoons of salt
A little ground white pepper

Begin by skinning the almonds, simply place the almonds in a large bowl. pour over boiling water to cover and allow to cool completely. You can easily pop the kernels out of their skins by squeezing gently. Set the almonds to one side. Blanch all but two fat cloves of a large head of garlic in boiling water for 5 minutes. Place the almonds, garlic, both blanched and raw, cucumber, bread cut up in cubes, vinegar, sherry and seasoning in a blender with 600ml of cold water. blend for at least 3 minutes.  Leave the contents in the blender for 10 minutes or so then blend again for a really smooth soup. Strain through a fine sieve and adjust the seasoning if required.

Personally I like a soup not to be very thick, soups that have bread in them often are and certainly the traditional garnish of halved grapes requires a certain thickness in order for the grapes to float. Adjust the amount of water in order to produce the consistency you prefer.

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