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 V.18 No.30 | July 23 - 29, 2009 

Bite

It is gazpacho season. Don't know if you've ever noticed, but very few recipes as simple as "buy vegetables, blend and chill" inspire such strong preferences as this iconic cold soup. (We give props to the oil-laden, paprika-orange smoothie variety over the chunky salsa in a bowl style, but hey, that's just us.)

In fact, there are many ways to do this chilled soup. But it turns out, there was also a first way. The first gazpacho on record was a white soup brought to Andalusia by the Moors, before the Euros had any idea tomatoes existed. It was a simple recipe that made use of leftoverscrusty bread stubs, withering grapes and almonds. So we gave it a whirl. Besides making a batch with too much raw garlic, and learning that the stuff thickens overnight, we quickly seized on what we liked and stuck to the basics, adding only cucumber.

As for garnish, a simple grape or almond with a swirl of olive oil keeps it vegan and does the soup justice. But for full-on indulgence, we have added a single crouton topped with Spanish sheep's milk cheese. So many ways!

Gazpacho Blanco

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

2 thick slices crusty French bread
1 cup blanched almonds (skins removed)
1/2 cup water
2 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed
1 cup green grapes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste
Instructions:

1) In a shallow bowl, place your crusty bread and cover with tap water. Let sit on the counter until soggy.

2) Grind the almonds in a blender or food processor. Drain the water off the bread, adding the soft slices to the almonds in the processor. Add 1/2 cup water, cucumber, green grapes, lemon juice and garlic, and puree on the medium setting.

3) Once the mixture is thoroughly moving, add the olive oil in a slow drizzle. Keep processing for several minutes. Add salt and taste.

4) Pour into a large bowl, cover and chill for at least two hours. (It's better overnight.) If the soup condenses too much, add another 1/4 cup water and blend before serving. Garnish with a grape slice or crouton.
 

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