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
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
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.
5 months ago