Sunday, June 25, 2017

Spanish Almond & Garlic Soup (Ajo Blanco) with Grilled Tomato Bread (Pan Con Tomate) for Food 'n Flix June: "Volver" & Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

It's Food 'n Flix time again--when a group of bloggers watch a movie--foodie or otherwise, and head to the kitchen to make a dish inspired by it. This month's Food 'n Flix film pick is the 2006 Spanish drama, Volver, starring Penélope Cruz and it's hosted by the amazing Evelyne at CulturEatz. (You can see her announcement post here.)

I watched this film on Netflix when it came out but I didn't remember that much about it, so I got it from Netflix again to watch last weekend. I find it's always fun to see a film a second time with my food googles firmly in place.

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Volver is the story of a family of women from Alcanfor de las Infantas, a small windswept village in La Mancha. Raimunda (Cruz) now works and lives in Madrid with her husband and teenage daughter and her sister Sole lives nearby. Although Raimunda was estranged from her mother before her death (in a house fire that killed both parents a few years before the film starts), both sisters miss her. The family is full of secrets and a couple of recent deaths bring the sisters together, along with the ghost of their mother--who seems to want to tie up loose ends. I don't want to say too much more than that. It is an interesting mix of humor, sadness, tragedy, and mystery, and there is plenty of food--both foods the family cooks and food that Raimunda makes in a restaurant she 'borrows' from a traveling neighbor to feed a local film crew.

Some of the food I wrote down included: 'wafers' (they looked more like donuts or churros), something pickled (I couldn't tell what), bread, pork, vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and squash, sausages--chorizo, cookies, a menu board with omelette and blood sausage written on it, tortilla and pork salad,a brothy soup, eggs, mojitos with lemon, red peppers and jalapenos (maybe for salsa?), and a dessert that looked like a cross between flan and rice pudding. I know I missed some things--it happens when I am trying to pay attention to subtitles, but there was plenty to choose from for my film-inspired dish.

The soup in the film looked like a comforting chicken broth, but I decided to go with a classic Spanish cold soup for the warm and quite humid weather we have been having this week. I have made a lot of different versions of gazpacho over the years, as well as its cousin, salmorejo--a creamy tomato soup, but I have been wanting to try ajo blanco--Spanish almond and garlic soup. I thought since the film involves the mother's ghost returning to help her daughters, the white soup would represent her ghostly presence. I found a recipe I liked in Sauver Magazine, from Claudia Roden, one of my favorite Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookbook authors.

The soup is meant to be garnished with green grapes and olive oil and I thought some Spanish Marcona almonds would be lovely on top, along with smoky paprika for color. To go with the Ajo Blanco, I made one of my favorite classic Spanish tapas; Pan Con Tomate or grilled tomato bread.

Sauver said, "Pungent raw garlic shines in this bracing, no-cook Spanish soup of garlic, bread, and puréed almonds. The dish, one of Spain’s oldest cold soups (which include gazpacho and salmorejo), dates to the eighth century. This recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain (Ecco, 2011). Fresh grapes, a traditional garnish for the dish, add a touch of sweetness."
Spanish Almond & Garlic Soup (Ajo Blanco)
Very Slightly Adapted from
(Serves 4)

2 cups ice-cold water + more if needed
1 cup blanched and peeled almonds (or slivered almonds)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 baguette (about 3oz), crusts removed and torn into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
1 1/4 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 drop almond extract
sea salt to taste
halved green grapes, Marcona almonds, olive oil, and smoked paprika to garnish

Combine 1 1/2 cups of the water, almonds, garlic, and bread in a food processor or blender and let sit until bread is softened, about 4–5 minutes. Purée until smooth. With the motor running, add the remaining water, the oil, vinegar, almond extract, and salt to taste and purée until the soup is emulsified. 

Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with more oil; garnish with grapes and sliced Marcona almonds and smoked paprika, if you like. Eat while soup is cold. 


Catalan Tomato Bread
Slightly Adapted from
(Makes 8 to 10 Toasts)

1 long baguette roll, cut into 3/4" slices
2 large garlic cloves, halved-crosswise
3 to 4 small ripe tomatoes, halved crosswise
3 to 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt, to taste

In batches of 4 to 5 pieces of bread, grill bread on a lightly-oiled grill pan, over high heat, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until grill marks form.  

Remove bread from heat and immediately rub 1 side of each slice with cut side of a garlic half, then rub with cut side of a tomato half, using 1 tomato half for 1 to 2 slices of bread and allowing most of pulp to be absorbed by bread (discard remainder of garlic and tomato halves). Brush bread with oil, then sprinkle with salt and serve immediately. 

Notes/Results: This is a pungent and quite tasty cold soup. It's rich and satisfying from the almonds and bread and the green grapes and olive oil are a nice fruity contrast--as is the pan con tomate, if you serve it with the soup. Because it's so rich and flavorful, a small amount as a starter on a hot day or humid evening is perfect with the tomato breads to dip and enjoy. I would happily make it again.

The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is Wednesday, June 28th and Evelyne will be rounding up the dishes on her blog soon after. If you missed out this month and like food, movies and foodie movies, join us for Food 'n Flix July when we will be watching the 80s classic Dirty Dancing, hosted by Chef Sarah Elizabeth.

We have a few delicious dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Sprouted Lentil Salad and said, "Lentil sprouts which are crunchy, juicy, pleasing to eat, and will blend well with just about any kind of salad veggies. How do they taste? They are mild, delicious, and satisfying. … This salad is so tasty; I would make this for company without hesitation. It is also naturally gluten free, making it a great salad to bring to a BBQ or other summer gathering."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Pan Bagnat and said, "Today I wanted to share a sandwich that had been an old favorite  of ours quite a while back. I'm not sure why I quit making it but something inspired me to make it for our lunch this week. Wednesday evening I made a loaf of French bread in preparation for Thursday's lunch. ... You can add turkey or anything you'd like per your taste preferences.  It's a great lunch - lots of carbs but you wouldn't want to have it every week."

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen brought Roasted Broccoli and Apple Salad and said,
"It was lovely with lots of varying textures and bursts of flavours. We both really enjoyed the freshness of this salad. It was also very substantial that we did not need to eat anything else later."
Here at Kahakai Kitchen I made Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad and loved the bright flavors of the dressing and cooling herbs and the combination of crisp beans, sugar snap, and snow peas, along with the peanuts and noodles. Satisfying by itself and also god with some protein added (I put a scoop of ahi poke--cubed raw ahi tuna salad) on top of the leftovers.

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I am always totally fascinated to read how you explain your recipe selections based on a book or a movie. It always seems like a mystery that is being solved. That being said, I love Claudia Rosen's Middle Eastern Cookbook as well and your soup looks delicious. I might try to participate in the July Food and Flix and try my hand at it. Dirty Dancing is a favorite that I wouldn't mind watching it again to look for the food!!

  2. Oh my gosh Deb I love your two recipes! I make a mean hot garlic soup from my blog once in a while but never heard of this cold version. Perfect fro the ghostly presence :-) Might make this tonight! The wafers are barquillos, I looked it up lol. Thanks so much for participating.

  3. I love the sounds of that bread. You were quite creative (and you caught a lot more food than I did in the film). This was a fun round.

  4. Oh, my goodness I would like a bowl of this right now! Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

  5. Just made it for dinner, even more unique then expected...really good!


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