Author Notes:White gazpacho -- or ajo blanco -- is a delicious and refreshing variety of gazpacho that's perhaps less known than its classic red counterpart. The base of white gazpacho consists of blanched almonds and garlic that are mashed into a paste. Stale bread (soaked in water to soften it) and olive oil are then added to form an emulsion. Next, cucumbers, grapes, and a shallot are blended in to provide fresh, vibrant flavor, as well as a touch of sweetness that mellows out the garlic. A splash of Spanish sherry vinegar adds just the right amount of acidity to round out the dish.
2cups cubed stale white bread from a baguette, Italian loaf, or sliced bread (crusts removed)
1 1/2cups cold water, divided
1/3cup whole, blanched almonds
2tablespoons chopped shallot
2cups diced, peeled English cucumber (about 1 large cucumber)
3/4cup green grapes
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2teaspoons sherry vinegar
1teaspoon kosher salt
Chives or scallions for garnish (optional)
Place the bread cubes in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup water on top to soften them.
Place the almonds and garlic in a blender and purée until finely ground. Add the shallot, cucumber, grapes, oil, vinegar, salt, and softened bread to the blender along with the remaining 1 cup water. Purée until smooth. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Add more water to the soup as needed to achieve desired consistency. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serve in bowls or glasses and garnish with sliced grapes, almonds, and chives or scallions, if desired.