Ajo Blanco, a white version of gazpacho, remains closer to the soup's origins as a simple combination of bread, nuts, salt, olive oil, and vinegar. Cucumbers, grapes and a pinch of cayenne elevate what was once a poor man's meal to a refined soup.
2 cups french bread bread crumbs
3 cups ice water
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 clove garlic
3/4 pound seedless green grapes, cut in halves
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Taste#5 Vegetarian paste
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and cayenne pepper
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
In a large skillet, lightly dry toast bread crumbs over medium heat. Stir constantly. Do allow them to over brown or burn. Remove the pan to a bowl and allow to cool. When cool stir in a cup of water.
Lightly toast the almonds in a small skillet over medium-low heat until golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a food processor add the garlic and pulse until the almonds are finely ground. Squeeze the bread as dry as possible and add it, and about one-third of the grapes to the almonds. Process until the mixture is smooth.
Transfer the bread mixture to a bowl and gradually beat in first the vinegar, then 1/2 cup of the oil. Beat in the remaining two cups of water then strain the gazpacho through a fine sieve, forcing as much of the bread mixture through as possible. Season the gazpacho with salt and a pinch of cayenne and refrigerate until the soup is well chilled, at least one hour. Serve the gazpacho in chilled bowls topped with the grapes and cucumbers.