Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chilled Zucchini & Avocado Soup

I have to confess that I never really got cold soup. It was a concept introduced to me rather late in life, I suppose, as I don't have any childhood memories of it. For me, there was soup, which was hot, and then there was juice, which was cold. To some degree, I guess I still think this way. Take tomatoes for example. In their hot liquid form, they are tomato soup. In their cold liquid form, they are Bloody Marys tomato juice. So why did Gazpacho have to cross the Atlantic/the Pyrenees and ruin everything?

I don't really like Gazpacho. Not even its cousin Cucumber Gazpacho. I think it's the impression I have of drinking salsa in my spoon, or maybe just the fact that I keep thinking how much more satisfying soup is when it's warm. And so it was that I'd never really come across a cold vegetable soup that I truly liked (cold strawberry soup, however, had me at hello). Sometimes, on a particularly hot summer day, I would even crave the idea of a cold vegetable soup, but never quite end up loving it when it came time to actually eat it.

Until now! Enter the avocado. 

The thing about avocados is that they solve a lot of problems. They make things satisfying where there was no satisfaction before. Whereas I'd experienced most cold vegetable soups as uninviting and, well, cold, avocado's creaminess and richness made everything so much more fun! 

The texture is one of the keys to this soup. Thick and luxurious, it's still light and airy on the tongue. But the important thing that you must get right is the lime juice. Its acidity is very important in balancing the creamy soup, so you want to be sure to add enough to give the soup brightness and zing, but not too much as to overpower the subtle, nutty avocado. 

This would be a great start to a summer meal, maybe with a nice cool glass of white wine. Chardonnay, anyone?

Chilled Zucchini & Avocado Soup, found at adapted from Gourmet, serves 2-4

1 medium avocado
1 medium zucchini, peeled
2 limes (or lemons)
1 cup buttermilk
salt, pepper
ground cumin
ice cubes (about 5 or 6)

Roughly chop the zucchini and steam until tender.

When it's done, blend it with the avocado, the juice of one lime, and the buttermilk. Add the ice cubes and blend. They will melt since the zucchini is hot, thinning and cooling your soup. When you've achieved the texture you want, add juice from the second lime, but do so gradually, tasting after additions, to find the level of acidity you'd like. Add two or three good dashes of cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. 

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