I love hot and silky tomato soup, but Bloody Marys or tomato gazpacho? Big pass. There's just something about drinking cold tomato juice that I've never liked, maybe stemming from an unfortunate V-8 incident when I was a child. Here's another chilled soup, though, that I'd gladly sip on a hot summer day — one with nary a tomato in sight.
This version of white gazpacho is closely related to ajo blanco, a Spanish almond and garlic soup. I add refreshing cucumber and sweet green grapes to the almonds and garlic, and thicken the mixture with white bread soaked in water and a good dose of extra-virgin olive oil. Sherry vinegar balances out the sweetness from the grapes, and it's all blended until super-smooth before being chilled and served.
This no-cook soup needs to hang out for a few hours for the flavors to meld, but that also makes it the perfect make-ahead soup. Serve it in little shot glasses as an appetizer or passed hors d'oeuvre (it's even elegant enough for a wedding reception!), or have it for lunch on days when it's just too darn hot to turn on the stove.
2 slices white sandwich bread
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds English cucumbers (about 2 small)
1 cup seedless green grapes, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon fine salt
Finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Trim the crusts from the bread and cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a small bowl, mix in the water, and set aside to soak for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the cucumbers. Cut into large chunks and place in a blender. Add the 1 cup grapes, almonds, 1/3 cup oil, garlic, 2 teaspoons vinegar, and salt. When the bread is ready, add it and any remaining soaking liquid to the blender. Blend on high speed until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender jar as needed, about 2 minutes total.
Cover and refrigerate in the blender jar if it can fit, or transfer to a bowl or airtight container. Refrigerate until chilled and the flavors meld, about 2 hours.
Taste and season with more vinegar as needed. Pour or ladle into serving bowls and top with the chives, sliced green grapes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Make ahead: This soup can be made up to one day ahead.