White gazpacho, a classic Spanish soup made with cucumbers, almonds, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and day-old bread soaked in water, is common all over Andalucía, especially in summer. Jonathan Benno prepares it with delectable marcona almonds, which are sold roasted and already peeled. Instead of the traditional green grapes, he tops this intensely nutty gazpacho with pickled shrimp, adding another level of sweet-tart flavor.
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2 1/4 cups sherry vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 large jalapeño, halved lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 mint sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped mint
3 cilantro sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1/2 pound large shrimp in their shells
4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups crustless 1-inch cubes of peasant bread
1 cup Greek whole-milk yogurt
3/4 cup marcona almonds (4 ounces) (see Note)
1/2 pound seedless green grapes
1/2 large seedless cucumber—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (Pimentón de la Vera)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the sherry vinegar with the sugar, jalapeño, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and 1 cup of water and bring to a rapid boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the mint and cilantro sprigs. Remove from the heat and add the shrimp. Cover the shrimp with a lid or a heatproof plate to keep them submerged and let the shrimp stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, simmer the garlic in the vegetable oil over moderate heat until very soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a blender. Reserve the garlic oil for another use.
In a small bowl, soak the bread in cold water until softened. Squeeze out the excess water and transfer the bread to the blender. Add the yogurt, almonds, grapes, cucumber, 3 tablespoons of the sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons of water and puree until smooth. With the machine on, add 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a thin stream. Set a fine strainer over a bowl and strain the soup, pressing hard on the solids. Season the soup with the paprika, salt and white pepper and refrigerate until cold.
Drain the shrimp and discard the liquid. Shell and devein the shrimp. In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with the remaining 1 tablespoon each of sherry vinegar and olive oil. Add the chopped mint and cilantro and season with salt and white pepper. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and mound the shrimp in the center. Drizzle the soup with olive oil and serve.
The undressed, pickled shrimp and gazpacho can be refrigerated separately overnight.
Marcona almonds are skinned, roasted almonds from Spain. Look for them in specialty food shops.
This garlicky gazpacho pairs nicely with a copita (small glass) of fino sherrya classic match in Seville or Jerez. Fino, the lightest type of sherry, should be served chilled to help bring out its almondy finish and make it a graceful match for the marcona almonds in the recipe.
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