A silky texture and the presence of garlic, salt, and the melon (or large green grapes) make a concoction that’s at once sweet, salty, and pungent. The first time I had this, in Spain, I was immediately reminded of those perfumed Arab almond-based drinks scented with orange-flower water, to which this is related. Both are luxurious given the quantity of nuts and the labor of pounding and straining, even if that is now done by a food processor. Because this is a rich soup, it can be served in quite small portions; this amount will serve six or more.
1 large slice white country bread or baguette
¾ cup almonds
2 garlic cloves, not too large, peeled
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, plus extra to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil, preferably Spanish
2 cups ice water
2 cups diced fragrant green melon, such as Galia or Passport, or 24 large seedless green grapes, peeled and halved
1. Put the bread on a plate, drizzle several tablespoons of water over it, and set aside.
2. Bring several cups of water to a boil, add the almonds, turn off the heat, and let stand for 1 minute. Drain, then rinse with cold water. Pinch off the skins with your fingers.
3. Grind the almonds in a food processor with the garlic and add ½ teaspoon salt until reduced to fine crumbs. Add the bread and vinegar and continue working until it is as smooth as possible. It may clump together, but you can’t overwork it. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil, followed by the ice water. Be sure to scrape down the sides as the ground almonds can stick to them. Pour the soup through a fine strainer set over a bowl, and gently press the liquid out with a rubber scraper so that the soup is silky smooth. Discard the solids and refrigerate the soup until it’s good and cold, 2 to 3 hours. Taste for salt and vinegar. The sharpness of the vinegar should just be detectable.
4. Serve small portions of the soup, dividing the melon or grapes among them.
This rich soup wants some bubbles to contrast with its creaminess. A Spanish cava would be an obvious and good choice.