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Chilled Garlic and Almond Soup

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Serves: 6
75g / 3 oz blanched almonds
50g / 2 oz pine nuts
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
200g / 7 oz good-quality day-old bread, crusts removed
900ml-1 litre / 1 1/2-1 3/4 pints still mineral water, chilled
120ml / 4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
15ml / 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
30-45ml / 2-3 tbsp dry sherry
250g / 9 oz grapes, peeled, halved and seeded
salt and ground white pepper
ice cubes and chopped fresh chives, to garnish

Roast the almonds and pine nuts together in a dry pan over a moderate heat until they are very lightly browned. Cool, then grind to a powder. Blanch the garlic in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse. Soak the bread in 300ml / 1/2, pint of the water for 10 minutes, then squeeze dry. Process the garlic, bread, nuts and 5ml / 1 tsp salt in a food processor or blender until they form a paste.

Gradually blend in the olive oil and sherry vinegar, followed by sufficient water to make a smooth soup with a creamy consistency. Stir in 30ml / 2 tbsp of the sherry. Adjust the seasoning and add more dry sherry to taste. Chill for at least 3 hours, then adjust the seasoning again and stir in a little more chilled water if the soup has thickened. Reserve a few grapes for the garnish and stir the remainder into the soup.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with ice cubes, the reserved grapes and chopped fresh chives. Serve with additional extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over the soup to taste just before it is eaten.

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