Recipe: Ajo blanco (white gazpacho)

Total time: 25 minutes plus 2 hours chilling time

Servings: 6

Note: This recipe is adapted from one by cookbook author and Spanish cuisine authority Anya von Bremzen. Use a light, fruity olive oil, preferably Andalusian. Andalusian olive oil is available online from or Do not use a peppery oil, such as Tuscan.

3 1-inch slices day-old rustic bread, medium round loaf, divided

2 cups ice water, divided

2 cloves garlic, crushed using a garlic press

1 cup whole blanched almonds, ground in a blender or food processor

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3cup plus 2 tablespoons light, fruity olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar, or more to taste

2 cups baby lettuces of different colors

1 cup edible flowers, broken into petals

3 fresh black mission figs, cut into quarters

1. Remove the crusts from the bread slices and tear two of the slices into bits. Soak in one-half cup of ice water for 5 to 10 minutes, then drain in a small sieve, pressing to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Crumble into a blender.

2. Add the garlic, almonds, salt and one-half cup or more of the water to the blender, and blend to form a paste. With the blender running at the highest speed, drizzle one-third cup of the olive oil through the feed tube to emulsify.

3. Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and the remaining 1 cup of water. The consistency should be that of very thick cream or very thin mayonnaise. Add a little more vinegar and/or salt to taste, if desired. Chill the soup for at least 2 hours so the flavors develop.

4. For the garnish, cut the remaining slice of bread into quarter-inch cubes. Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet, and cook the bread cubes to form golden brown croutons. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

5. Place the soup in a glass pitcher. Pile a small heap of the lettuce in the middle of a soup plate and top with flower petals, 2 fig quarters and some croutons. To serve, bring the pitcher to the table and pour the soup around the lettuce and figs in each bowl.

Each serving: 373 calories; 7 grams protein; 23 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 30 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 329 mg. sodium.

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