Chef Recipes: Ajo Blanco, a chilled almond and garlic soup

A recipe for Ajo Blanco, a chilled almond and garlic soup, courtesy of Katie Button of Cúrate and Nightbell in Asheville, NC.

Courtesy of Katie Button of Cúrate and Nightbell in Asheville, NC.

Cúrate - Photo by Peter Frank Edwards
Cúrate – Photo by Peter Frank Edwards

Raw Almond Milk

  • 4 cups raw skin on conventional almonds
  • Water

In food processor, pulse almonds until broken apart, but not a powder.  Cover with water and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day, blend almonds using the soaking water in blender in batches so that enough water is added to allow each batch to blend smoothly, you may need to add more water than just the soaking liquid.  Pass through very fine mesh strainer such as a bouillon strainer using a rubber spatula to guide almond milk through strainer, do not press too hard or try to get ALL of the liquid out as this will push through too much of the almond pulp.  Push until almond pulp starts to pull away from inside of strainer, then discard the pulp. Ajo Blanco

  • 4 cups raw almond milk
  • ½ clove garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons reserve sherry vinegar
  • Kosher salt to taste

In even batches blend everything thoroughly in blender, adding the oil little by little while the motor is running.  Add kosher salt to taste. Chill thoroughly, the soup must be served cold. Steamed Crab

  • 2 dungeness crabs, live

Fill a large pot with 3 to 4 inches of water.  Place a steamer rack inside the pot. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Using tongs put the crabs in the pot and cover with a tight fitting lid.   Steam for about 20-25 minutes until shells are bright red.  Using tongs, remove the crab to a colander and rinse under cold water until cold enough to handle.  Pick the crab clean, reserving the crab meat.  Sort back through the picked crab meat to be sure that all of the shell pieces were removed. Green Grape Granizado

  • 1 bunch of green grapes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Wash and remove green grapes from stems, discarding any rotten grapes.  Press grapes through juicer into a container with about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.  After all grapes are juiced taste the juice. Pour into a shallow metal container and freeze. Once frozen solid, using a fork scrape up the frozen juice to create fluffy icy texture, return to freezer until ready to serve soup. PX Reduction

  • 1 bottle Nectar Pedro Ximenez wine
  • 60g Sugar, granulated

Bring wine and sugar to a boil in a saucepan, reduce until just barely thickened.  For this dish, the PX reduction should pour easily when cold.  If it is over-reduced, simply add hot water and mix thoroughly to thin it out. If it is too syrupy, your spoon sticks to the bottom of the cup and it is unpleasant. Plating Pour cold Ajo Blanco into a pitcher.  In bottom of soup bowls garnish with PX reduction and grape granizado and fresh steamed crab with a little maldon salt and extra virgin olive oil.  Serve the bowls in front of the guests and pour the soup tableside. Katie Button is chef/owner of Cúrate, located at 11 Biltmore Ave, and Nightbell, located at 32 South Lexington Ave, in Asheville, NC.

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