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Ajoblanco is a traditional Andalusian soup which is served chilled in the summer months. It is designed to be both refreshing and filling, and was probably originally developed for laborers in the field who wanted a high-calorie meal which would still be refreshing in hot weather. While less well known than gazpacho, another famous Spanish soup, ajoblanco certainly has its fans, and it can be a distinctive menu option for people who like to experiment with Spanish foods.
The focal point of this soup is almonds, typically raw and blanched to remove their skins. The almonds are ground with fresh garlic and then blended with white, crustless bread which has been soaked in water. Once a thick slurry has been made, the cook adds olive oil and vinegar in a slow drizzle, so that the ingredients blend without curdling. Sometimes more water is added to thin the soup.
The end result is a very rich, creamy, and surprisingly light soup which is almost drinkable if it has been thoroughly blended. Many cooks serve ajoblanco with the traditional accompaniment of white grapes, although lashings of cooled cooked bacon are not uncommon, and sometimes the soup is served with a side of a baked potato or additional bread, for the purpose of mopping up as much of the soup as possible.
This cold soup is sometimes called “white almond soup” or “white gazpacho.” Technically, “white gazpacho” is a bit of a misnomer, because while both are cold soups, they have very different ingredients, and ajoblanco is always blended, whereas gazpacho may be served with intact ingredients. Ajoblanco is also much richer than gazpacho, especially when served with calorie-rich sides.
This soup makes an excellent summer soup, since it is served cool, and because it is so rich, it can be the main course of a meal. It is also deceptively light, so diners will not feel heavy after finishing a bowl, despite the fact that the soup is very rich. It pairs well with crisp white wines like those which tend to be popular in the summer months, and it also packs well, for people looking for intriguing potluck ingredients. Ajoblanco can simply be poured into a thermos after being made for transport to a party or picnic, with individual diners adding salt and pepper to the soup for taste, although the flavor is often enough on its own.
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