White Gazpacho

Our first taste of white gazpacho made well came at the table of some friends in Rhode Island.  Though not Spanish (they’re Italian!) they had recently traveled to Miami, and raved about this soup, which they had at Michelle Bernstein’s restaurant Michy’s.   I don’t know if their version was accurate, but they used grapes in the soup, which was delicious.

While I follow the basic guidelines of their recipe, I omit garlic, which is part of most traditional recipes.  I love garlic, but feel it dominates the flavor of a raw soup.  Instead I use gently sautéed onions, which impart a similar flavor, but more sweetness.  Secondly, instead of sherry wine vinegar – again traditional – I use white balsamic.  In the end I think the result is a lighter, slightly sweet nod to the flavor of the grapes and almonds.  Of course, it would be easy to replace the onions with garlic and the white balsamic with sherry.

 

2 cups cubed, crustless white bread (use a French Pullman)

2 cups cold water

½ sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup green grapes, plus 3 – 4 grapes for garnish

1 cup plus blanched slivered almonds, plus 3 tablespoons for garnish

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup heavy cream

Salt and white pepper to taste

½ cup chopped basil leaves

½ cup olive oil

 

1.     Place the bread in a large blender container and cover with the water to let soak.

2.    Sauté the onion with a splash of olive oil over medium low heat.  Do not brown.  Add to the blender.

3.    Add the cucumber,  1 cup of grapes, 1 cup of almonds and the olive oil to the container and puree until smooth.

4.    Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl; add the cream and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper.  Chill thoroughly.

5.    Puree the basil and olive oil in a blender.  Pass through a fine sieve and set aside.

6.    Slice the remaining grapes thinly for garnish; toast the remaining almonds until light brown.

7.     Serve the soup in a bowl, garnished with grapes, almonds and drizzled basil oil.