Food - Drink
The Cold, Creamy Soup That Dates Back To The Middle Ages
By MATTHEW SPINA
When you think of soup, you probably picture a hot and comforting broth to get you through winter nights, but cold soups are popular throughout Europe and the Middle East. Spanish gazpacho and Persian chilled yogurt soup are two common varieties, but one popular cold soup dates all the way back to the Middle Ages.
Ajo blanco is a soup from Andalusia in southern Spain, made with stale bread, vinegar, water, almonds, and garlic. It traces back to the Moorish occupation of the Iberian peninsula in the Middle Ages, between the early 8th and late 15th centuries, and the all-important almonds could have been brought to Spain by the Moors themselves.
The taste of ajo blanco is usually quite subtle, like unsweetened almond milk plus a bit of garlic. The pureed almonds release their liquid to form the underlying base of the soup, but the texture is robust and extremely creamy because of the thick, pureed stale bread, and common garnishes like apples or grapes round out the dish.