I'm not quite sure where I got the inspiration for this recipe – I think it was actually when I was making bread one day and I incorporated some really sweet caramelized garlic and almonds into a focaccia. There's a slightly Spanish feel to the main ingredients – think of it as putting a bunch of old friends together and having a good party! My mother's initial reaction was, ‘My God, that's a lot of garlic, you'll stink!’ but don't let the amount put you off, as when garlic is roasted in its skin the pungent flavour is replaced by a jammy sweetness which is divine.
Roast the garlic cloves in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 for around half an hour until soft to the touch. Meanwhile, take a large pot and slowly fry the white onion in 4 tablespoons of olive oil for about 10 minutes until really soft and translucent. Add the cream and the stock, bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, awaiting your garlic. Remove the garlic from the oven and allow to cool slightly before squeezing out all the sweet, golden paste. Whisk this into the soup. Discard the garlic skins.
Remove the crusts from your ciabatta, rip up the bread into small pieces and throw into the soup. Add the sherry vinegar, then allow the soup to simmer for 5 more minutes. Whiz it until smooth in your food processor with your toasted almonds. Season nicely to taste and serve in big bowls sprinkled with some orange segments, torn up coriander and mint, and drizzled with a good lug of extra virgin olive oil.
Try this: You can eat this cold in the summer – it's obviously going to be thick, which I think is a nice thing, but you can thin it with a little milk or stock if you want to.
And this: You may want to big up the sherry vinegar to give it that twang you get with a Spanish gazpacho soup.
Or this: There's a similar recipe from Spain where sliced white grapes are added to the soup – this contrasts really well with the garlic, so give it a go. A handful will do. Nice when eaten both hot and cold.