Ajo Blanco

Ajo Blanco, L’lamber, Barcelona

A translator will tell you ‘ajo blanco’ means white garlic. Ajo blanco is not really white garlic soup though. The recipe calls for a single clove of garlic with the green germ removed. The key ingredient is blanched almonds.

The version we had at L’lamber in Barcelona was what you might call a refined version. That is if you consider adding water a refinement. The traditional version of ajo blanco has the consistency of a smoothie.

I read at least a dozen recipes before attempting my own version. What I found is that ajo blanco pre-dates the introduction of tomatoes in Europe. The recipe has had several tweaks over the centuries. I would add a few of my own.

The restaurant version we tried included smoked anchovies as well as the traditional addition of green grapes. I ditched the smoked fish and the grapes. ( I would have loved to use fresh Dungeness crab like Danny Hook suggested. It’s not available in Spain.) I used clams instead. Then I added Pink Lady apple cubes to the recipe. I used threads of dried mango as a garnish.

What I made was too thick. I thinned it out by adding small amounts of water and splashes of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar cut the sweetness of the apple and brought out the apple flavor.

I chose to cut the recommended amount of bread in half. Some recipes eliminate the bread altogether. That turns ajo blanco into a gluten free option.

I subscribe to the ‘Taste as you go Improvisational School of Cooking’. In this case Donna enthusiastically approved of the results. Nothing beats a cold soup on one of Spain’s simmering summer days.

Ingredients:

1 cup Marcona almonds pre-soaked overnight and strained

1 1/2 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed and cubed

1 clove of garlic with the green germ in the middle removed

3-4 tsp sherry vinegar

1/2 Pink Lady apple peeled and diced

1 cup of cold water

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Apple cider vinegar to taste (1 tsp at a time)

Salt to taste (a pinch at a time)

Garnishes: smoked anchovies, Dungeness crab, mussels, clams, dried mango threads, muscat grapes, cubed apples soaked in Cava…

Directions:

Add 1 1/2 slices of cubed stale bread (crusts removed) to the blender.

Pour the cold water and sherry vinegar over the bread and let it sit for a minute.

Add the almonds, olive oil, cubed apple, and garlic to the blender. Blend until the mixture is milky and smooth.

Chill for an hour before serving.

Add seafood, and garnishes. Drizzle the soup with olive oil.

Tweaking the Recipe: Add salt a pinch at a time. Add sherry vinegar 1 tsp at a time. Add apple cider vinegar 1 tsp at a time. Add water a little at a time to thin. ( I have a heavy hand when it comes to vinegar. I add it one splash at a time to taste. 1 splash = 1 Tbs )

Ajo Blanco Antonio Maura, 8 Style…

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