Before you kiss summer goodbye, during these last days of sunny early evenings, make a batch of this unusual, tomato–less gazpacho. It's smooth, satisfying and refreshing. Have you ever tried this version of the much–adored chilled Spanish soup? I first tasted this 'blonde' variation of gazpacho while living in southern Spain. My host mom made several memorable meals, some dazzling — such as churros and hot chocolate for breakfast — as well as some lackluster main dishes such as tuna fish-mayonnaise pie.
I was always happy when she blended up her mother's easy specialty, gazpacho in the Malaga manner. It was refreshing in the heat of summer, satisfying in its addition of almonds and bread and unusual to my American palate. I've still never had anything quite like it and I prefer it to its more popular version, heavy with tomatoes.Malaga gazpacho relies heavily on cucumbers and grapes, a lovely combination of flavors. This soup is wonderful now served with a simple side salad and a piece of toast, or it could be updated as an interesting starter course later on into fall. It would definitely be a conversation starter at any autumn dinner party.
serves 4-6 as a main course
1/2 standard-sized baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups ice water, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups blanched almonds (reserve a few to garnish finished soup)
2 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups green grapes
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or to taste
1/3 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
chopped green onions (for garnish)
Place the torn bread pieces in a medium sized bowl, cover with 1 cup of the ice water and set aside (bread will become mushy) for about five minutes.
In the bowl of a blender, add the bread, water, and all the remaining ingredients (do this in batches if it all won't fit). Blend until smooth and chill for at least 30 minutes, to 4 hours (letting it chill and set allows flavors to come together). When serving, garnish with a little green chopped onion and almonds.
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)