The Heart of New England
White Gazpacho
by Charlie Burke

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One of the most memorable dinners Joanne and I shared this past winter was
Spanish garlic soup (white gazpacho), which typifies old Spanish family
recipes. From a few basic ingredients --  water, paprika, olive oil, garlic and
bread -- emerges a dish where the whole exceeds the sum of the parts. Adding a
poached egg provided a complete meal for a family.

Most are familiar with gazpacho made with tomatoes and cucumber, really a
salad made into a soup served ice cold during Spain’s blazing hot summers; it
turns up in many variations on American menus. Recipes for both of these soups
can be found in our Food/Recipe archive.

White gazpacho is less well known, but we seem to make it more often than the
traditional red version. It, too, is made with few ingredients. Served ice cold, this
silky smooth almond colored soup is an easy and elegant way to start to a meal.
Guests invariable say it’s delicious and then ask what they are eating. They don’t
have to know it’s a snap to put together and is actually better if made a day

I usually double the recipe, because a cup makes a great snack, and a single
recipe disappears all too soon. Try to find locally grown garlic which will be
showing up soon at farmers’ markets and farm stands. It is as different from the
white garlic in stores as heirloom tomatoes are from tasteless 3,000 mile
tomatoes. The grapes are not a frivolous garnish, they are a counterpoint to the
salty, garlicky flavors, similar to combining melon with salty ham.

My favorite Spanish food writer is Penelope Casas, an American who has lived
in Spain and writes authentic Spanish recipes. This is basically her recipe, except
for substituting sherry vinegar for red vinegar and tweaking the ingredients
according to our tastes. The recipe appeared in
The Foods and Wines of Spain,
written by her and published by Knopf in New York in 1983. It is worth seeking

Serves 6

4 ounces blanched almonds (the packaged slivered almonds work fine)
3 cloves locally grown garlic, peeled (2 cloves if using white commercial garlic)
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for final seasoning
4 medium slices of crusty European bread, preferably a day or two old, crusts
5 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil – Spanish if you are seeking
3 – 4 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar (slightly less if substituting red wine
Seedless green grapes, peeled, 4 – 5 per bowl
4 ½ cups iced water

Soak the bread in the iced water. Pulse salt, garlic and almonds in a food
processor or blender until fine, stopping before it reaches a paste-like
consistency. Squeeze the bread, break it up and add it in pieces to the almond
mixture with the processor/blender running. Add the oil gradually, followed by
the vinegar and the remaining ice water.

Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer, using a spatula or wooden spoon to
press out as much liquid as possible. Scrape the adhering liquid from the bottom
of the strainer.  Check seasoning, adding more salt or vinegar to taste. Chill the
soup, covered, several hours or over night To prepare the grapes, have an ice
bath ready, plunge the grapes into boiling water for 10 seconds or so and put
them into the ice bath. The skins should come off easily. To save time you can
simply slice the grapes in half, leaving the skins on. Serve ice cold with the
grapes in chilled soup bowls to provide your guests with a unique, flavorful
taste of Spain.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the NH's
Farmer'sMarket Association, president of the NH Farm to
Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers'
Market.  Along with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and
berries at Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton,
White Gazpacho
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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