4 slices of rustic white bread without the crust (about ½ inch thick)
4 ounces of rough-chopped blanched almonds
24 green grapes1
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
2 teaspoons minced garlic in a blender or food processor
2 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons of good extra-virgin olive oil.
Purée all the ingredients until very smooth; it may take up to 5 minutes to achieve a smooth and aerated texture. If desired, strain the soup or just transfer it to a bowl and refrigerate. Want to cheat? Place the bowl over another bowl of ice water and stir the soup constantly to cool it quickly.
The soup will need lots of seasoning. In fact, I have used this soup in class as a way to teach students about acid and salt. Before adding either the soup will be pretty bland but it is important to taste it first. Then, add a pinch of kosher salt and taste it again. Ask yourself if you can taste each ingredient. You’re not looking for soup that tastes salty; rather, you’re looking for soup that tastes like almonds, cucumber, grapes and a little hint of garlic. Add more salt if you’re not there yet. The richness of the almonds and bread cry out for some acid so if the grapes haven’t brought enough to the party, sherry vinegar is your friend. Add just a few drops at a time, again tasting along the way, until you finally balance things out. White pepper provides a little kick or you can add a pinch of cayenne. Remember, “little kick” is key—you aren’t going for spicy here.
Serve the soup cold, in chilled bowls, and garnish with something crunchy: toasted sliced almonds, small homemade croutons, chiffonade of a light herb (such as basil or mint) and a drizzle more of great olive oil. It’s a lesson in balancing flavors that pays you back with every single bite you take.