Almond Gazpacho With Cherries And Flowers

  • Almond Gazpacho With Cherries and Flowers.

    Almond Gazpacho With Cherries and Flowers. Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post

 
Posted7/31/2019 6:00 AM

This cold soup, popular in Spain's Malaga province, uses no tomatoes or other vegetables, making it especially pantry-friendly. It's classically finished with grapes, but as Anya von Bremzen writes, modern chefs use it as a blank canvas, especially when it comes to garnishes. Here, those include baby lettuces, fresh cherries and edible flowers, but let your imagination -- and the market -- be your guide. It's important to use high-quality olive oil and sherry vinegar, to keep the flavor smooth and not harsh.

About 5 ounces day-old country bread (crusts removed), cubed (2½ cups)

 

1 cup slivered almonds

2 medium garlic cloves, chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

1½ cups chilled bottled still spring water, or more as needed

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar, preferably aged, or more as needed

2 cups lightly packed baby lettuces, preferably of different colors, for serving

½ cup chive blossoms or other edible flowers, broken into petals, for serving

1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and halved, for serving

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted, for serving

Place the bread in a large mixing bowl and add enough cold water to cover. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the bread, squeezing out the excess liquid, then crumble the soaked bread into a blender.

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Add the almonds, garlic, salt and 1 cup water to the blender and puree until a smooth paste forms. With the blender running at the highest speed, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until emulsified. Add the vinegar and remaining ½ cup water, blend briefly, and check the consistency: It should be that of very thick cream or very thin mayonnaise. Add more water, if needed, to thin it out slightly. Taste for seasoning, and add more vinegar and/or salt as needed.

Transfer the soup to a pitcher. It will be delicious if you serve immediately, but if you have time, refrigerate it, covered, for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

To serve, pile small heaps of the lettuce in the middle of six soup bowls and top each with flower petals, cherries and a sprinkle of the toasted almonds. Bring the pitcher to the table and pour the soup around the garnish in each bowl.

Note: Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Serves 6 (makes 4 cups)

Nutrition | Calories: 310; Total Fat: 24 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 240 mg; Carbohydrates: 21 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 7 g.

(Adapted from "The New Spanish Table," by Anya von Bremzen. Workman, 2005.)

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