Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chilled Almond Soup

Serves 4

150g really good quality day old bread
225g shelled almonds (in skins)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ tbsp sherry vinegar
220ml extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
372ml ice-cold water (approximately)

To serve

1 perfectly ripe fig
1 tbsp rose syrup, or extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley (optional)

Remove the crust from the bread, then cut into cubes and place in a bowl. Add cold water to cover and allow to soak for 2-3 minutes, then squeeze out excess water and set aside.

Drop the almonds into a pan of boiling water and leave for a minute or two, then remove. When cool enough to handle, slip the nuts out of their skins. (This is not enough to cook the almonds and will only serve to loosen the skins, leaving you with all the nut's nutrients.)

Put the garlic, almonds, bread, sherry vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the ice-cold water until the soup is the thickness of double cream. Discard remaining water.

The consistency is very important—too thick and it would feel cloying, too thin and it would be unsubstantial. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour or longer, until really well chilled.

Ladle the soup into soup plates. Cut the fig into thin wedges and lay two of these in the center of each bowl. Drizzle with a tiny amount of rose syrup, or extra virgin olive oil if you prefer. Scatter over some finely chopped parsley to serve.

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