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Ajo Blanco - Chilled Summer Soup


175g (about half a loaf) day old LOAF ciabatta, crusts removed
400g (21/2 cups) whole blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 litre (4 cups) chilled water
100ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, to serve
80ml (1/3 cup) sherry vinegar
Seedless green grapes, sliced, to serve


Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: none

This chilled summer soup is a classic dish from Andalucía, in southern Spain. Elegant and refreshing, it is also ridiculously quick to make…truthfully, the food processor does all the hard yakker. Do as they do in Spain and substitute pine nuts for some of the almonds and use chunks (or balls) of rock or honeydew melon instead of the grapes. Whatever route you take however, do serve this very, very, very cold, adding as many or as few sliced grapes (or pieces of melon) as you wish.


1. Place the bread in a bowl and cover with cold water. Drain the bread well then use your hands to wring out as much excess water as possible. Combine the bread, almonds, garlic and half the water in a food processor then process until the mixture is very smooth.

2. Remove the mixture to a large bowl or container then stir in the remaining water, oil and vinegar. Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground white pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until well chilled. Stir in a little extra water if the soup is too thick (it will thicken slightly on standing) then ladle among bowls.

3. Scatter over sliced grapes, drizzle with extra olive oil then serve.

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