Gazpacho Ajo Blanco

Combat the long hot summer with gazpacho, the coolest thing that ever happened to a tomato.

Gazpacho

1 1/3 cups blanched almonds
2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
5 thin slices, or 1 medium-size roll, French or Italian bread
(crusts removed, soaked in water, then squeezed thoroughly)
2 to 3 tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice, or a combination of both
1 egg white (optional)
3 to 3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil

Garnishes

A handful of peeled green grapes and a few slivered almonds per serving.

To blanch almonds, drop into boiling water and simmer 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water. Squeeze the nutmeats from the peels.

Soak the blanched almonds in 1 cup water for 2 hours, or overnight. Do not drain. Place in a blender with the garlic and salt and blend until very smooth. Add the bread, vinegar or lemon juice, and egg white, and more water if necessary. Whirl again, slowly dribbling in the olive oil. Pour into a soup tureen and stir in the remaining water. Adjust the seasonings to taste and chill at least 2 hours. Place in bowls and top each serving with the peeled green grapes and almond slivers. Serves 4 to 6.

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