Chilled Almond Soup

This soup works well as a starter, or a very light summer main – being rich and garlicky in flavour, a little goes a long way. It also can be made in advance, allowing it time to chill, and requires very little effort. You do need a reasonably powerful blender in order to get the soup to a smooth consistency, but sieving the mixture as well will remove any rogue lumps that may be left behind. You may want to dial the garlic down a touch if you don’t like a strong flavour, or if you’re cooking it for a date!

This recipe is also an excellent way to use up stale bread. I use sourdough, but you can substitute in alternatives if you have other breads that you don’t want to go to waste. The grapes and cucumber are very subtle influences, respectively adding a touch of sweetness and a kind of “cleanness” to the flavour.

Serves 6-8.

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g raw almonds
  • 125g white sourdough bread, crusts removed
  • milk, just enough to soak the bread in
  • 175ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 10g green grapes, seeds removed
  • ½ large cucumber, peeled and with seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 600ml ice cold water
  • sea salt and black pepper, to season

METHOD

Start by blanching your almonds. Place them in a heatproof bowl and cover them with boiling water, then leave them to soak for 4 minutes. Drain them through a colander, and then remove them from their skins by popping the almonds out using your fingers. If they aren’t popping out easily, they may need a few more seconds soaking.

Tear your bread into large chunks, place it in a bowl, and cover it with milk to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the bread, and dispose of any leftover milk.

Place your almonds in a blender, along with the olive oil, grapes, cucumber, garlic, vinegar and bread. Blend it on a low setting, gradually adding the water. Turn the speed up to high, and blitz the soup until it is very smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Strain the liquid through a sieve, and leave it to chill for three hours (or overnight) in the fridge.

When you are ready to serve, pour it into bowls and drizzle some good quality olive oil on top to garnish. Alternatively, you can add sliced grapes or crispy fried garlic to garnish if you want some more decoration, but for me, the olive oil is enough on its own.

Eat within 2-3 days of making, and store in the fridge.