Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ellie: White Gazpacho with Grapes and Toasted Almonds

I've been looking forward to this week's Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe, White Gazpacho with Grapes & Toasted Almonds, chosen by Lauren & Paul of I'll Eat You. I'm a huge fan of tomato-based gazpacho, so I thought that Ellie's cucumber based version sounded interesting.


This is a cold soup, as gazpachos tend to be, so it's a nice option when the weather gets warm. It's also one of those "throw everything in the food processor" soups, so you could pour yourself a cold drink and sit and fan yourself while the FP handles the hard labor.

The soup is thickened by white bread that gets soaked in water. I've made Ina Garten soups that use bread to thicken soup - it's really a pretty cool trick. And it worked like a charm here. The cucumber, garlic, scallions, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, toasted almonds, salt and olive oil get processed along with that soggy white bread. Ellie does not say to chill the soup before serving, but I chilled it. I like hot soup, warm soup, and cold soup, but not room temperature soup.

The soup gets garnished with more toasted almonds, more scallions, more cucumbers, and green grapes. Sidenote: I paid $8.14 for a smallish bag of green grapes for this recipe, a fact so shocking to me that I deemed it worthy of a Facebook status update ("Cathy just paid $8.14 for a smallish bag of green grapes.") For those of you not versed in social media, a Facebook status update is a far more serious and solemn affair than a Twitter status update (at least for me, as I will tweet anything). The cucumbers were 2 for 88 cents, though, so overall I am sure this soup was still far less expensive than take-out White Gazpacho with Grapes and Toasted Almonds would have been.

The verdict? I am not going to give up on this soup yet, because I think it has lots of potential. But the cucumber/garlic ratio in the recipe was WAY off, in my opinion, and I found the soup to be way too garlicky. The problem could be that the recipe calls for "2 large English cucumbers or 3 large regular cucumbers." Perhaps measurements (2 cups? 3 cups?) would have been useful, because "large" can be subjective. My three cucumbers looked large to me, but I sure wish that I had used that 4th cucumber (they were 2 for 88 cents, remember?) to help balance out the garlic. Other than that one issue, I felt like the soup had a nice texture, and it has the potential to be great, once we get the garlic situation under control. David noted that the garnishes make the soup, and I agree - garnishes are not optional here, kids. I will try this one again with some adjustments. It is a pretty, elegant soup (although I could not make it look pretty for pictures, sorry!), perfect for those summer garden luncheons that Ina always hosts. Thanks for the pick, Lauren & Paul!

White Gazpacho with Grapes and Toasted Almonds
2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

Ingredients

2 large English cucumbers (or 3 large regular cucumbers), peeled and roughly chopped
3 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup warm water
3 cloves garlic
6 scallions, whites only, divided
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or Sherry vinegar, plus more, to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup green grapes, halved

Directions

Set aside 1 cup of chopped cucumber for a garnish. Soak the bread in water until soft, about 2 minutes. Place soaked bread, the rest of the cucumber, garlic, 3 of the scallions, vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the almonds, salt and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until cucumbers are completely blended and liquid and almonds are almost completely invisible, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and vinegar, if desired.

To serve, ladle 1 cup gazpacho into a bowl. Mound 1/4 cup reserved chopped cucumber, 1 tablespoon scallions, 2 tablespoons grapes and 1 teaspoon almonds in the center of the soup.

25 comments:

applecrumbles said...

Great soup recap. This was our first taste of gazpacho and we really liked it. I must not have used very strong garlic because it wasn't too bad. Although Sara did comment that the garlic may have caused us to burp (not meaning to be gross, but ... that was the only draw back to this recipe).

Tracey said...

Holy cow, $8 for a small-ish bag of green grapes? I think I would have had a heart attack!

Your picture of the soup is gorgeous :)

Alwayzbakin said...

It looks very interesting. I have never tried Gazpacho before.

Sara said...

It is pretty ridiculous how expensive grapes are. That's why I used the red ones that I already had. David is totally right, the crunchy garnishes make this soup.

Glad you liked this pick and were able to see through the wall of garlic.

Jessica said...

I made this awhile ago so your post made me remember a couple of things. First, I held back a clove of garlic because I wasn't quite sure about 3 whole cloves (and I like garlic). Second, I tasted it after it blended the first time and it was really strong so I added another half of a cucumber. So, I think that you're right -- with some adjustments the flavor can hit just right. I wish I'd remembered this when I was writing the post.
Anyway, I'm glad that you liked it enough to want to make it again with some adjustments!

nick said...

Crunchy garnish = WIN.

Yours is quite nice looking, def. the first "white" one of these I've seen so far.

Agreed that the garlic ratio was out of whack on this one (and I usually 2-3X garlic in recipes).

Cool drink and fan yourself? Too funny!

Pam said...

I think it sounds delicious although, if I make it, I will use less garlic and more cucumbers - thanks for the tip. I love the garnishes - sweet and crunchy.

pigpigscorner said...

Not a big fan of cold soups but my hubs love it. Looks delicious with the grapes though.

Debinhawaii said...

It looks delicious--I think your picture is a good one! I have a similar recipe tagged to make in a cookbook and I keep not making it because not only are the green grapes super expensive here--I can't find any that look good. I have issues with paying a lot for something that isn't good quality.

Aggie said...

The garnishes look like they would make the soup! I can't believe the price of those grapes...killer. Fresh fruit should never cost that much. It looks like it would be a refreshing soup, though I'm always leary of cold soups. The more I'm seeing this soup the more I'm craving it...

Amy I. said...

I agree about the garlic, we're big garlic fans but it was quite overpowering. I also paid a ridiculous amount for the grapes, but I'm glad I did because I think they were key in tying all the flavors together. Oh, and I loved your fb/twitter comparison... I'm much more indiscriminate with my tweeting vs. fb status updates as well! New CEiMB member here, it's nice to "meet" you!

AJM said...

I've paid upwards of $15 for take-out White Gazpacho myself, so good point on the math there. LOL. Between my broke down blender, non-existent FP and Safeway's expensive grapes, I didn't get around to this recipe, but I'll keep your tips in mind when I do:)

What's for Supper? said...

Wow! That is a lot for grapes. I sat this week out. I just am not into cold soups and I knew that this would not be a go in our house.

Leslie said...

We also found it garlicy, but that's actually a plus (if you're a couple, it's important that you agree on whether garlic is yummy or vile). I think if you wanted to dial it down, you could parboil the garlic for a few minutes before tossing it in the food processor.

Natashya said...

What an interesting soup! I think I'll have to try it for Souper Sundays one day. I have the book, and I love garlic.
Plus, as you say, the soup is still far less expensive than take-out White Gazpacho with Grapes and Toasted Almonds would have been.
:)

Pamela said...

I saw that update on FB about the price of the grapes and I am still shocked! I didn't get to this one but maybe I'll try it once the warmer weather stays.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Interesting post! That does sound like a lot of garlic -- thanks for your honest critique -- and the garnishes do look amazing!!

pinkstripes said...

too bad it didn't work out for you taste wise, but at least you are going to keep trying with the balance. I love cold soups, so I would keep trying too.

The Blonde Duck said...

I love things that are 2 for 88 cents. Hence the reason I have 12 boxes of Jiffy cornbread.

Cakelaw said...

I think this soup looks pretty in the photo. The grapes and almonds look lovely on top. Sorry it was a little too garlicky for you. Man, I know what you are saying with those grapes - ouch!

Di said...

Wow, those were some expensive grapes! And here I think it's bad when ours are $2.99 a pound. I've gotten spoiled living here in TX, with such good produce year round. I go to visit family in the northeast and forget that things are much more seasonal.

The Blonde Duck said...

I hope you found a new cure with your soup!

Katherine Aucoin said...

i bet if you go to Donna's blog, she can set you straight on what's large as far as cucumber s go! LOL. This sounds really refreshing for the warm months of summer in the South.

Bridgett said...

Sorry it didn't quite work out for you. I had made this a while back and just couldn't get the flavoring right. It just tasted strange to me, so please post if you find the secret to get it just right!

Kayte said...

Love all the ingredients, love the upbeat post about it all, love the photo...have to make this so I can say I love the soup. Looks great for a lunch around the pool deal in summer, doesn't it? I thought you would agree...

 
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