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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Springy Avocado Soup

The Springy Avocado
The essence of spring can be tasted in the simplest of ingredients, from spring onions, artichokes, shelled peas, leeks and green garlic to wild arugula, and even avocados.  Avocados you say? Yes, this native Central Mexican crop made its way to California in the 19th century and now has about 6,000 acres of fruit planted here. The popular Haas avocado makes up 90 percent of our country’s crop, and California is one of the world’s top three producers.  Oddly enough, the avocado is a climacteric fruit, the same as bananas, meaning they are picked when mature in size, but they ripen off the tree.

Avocados are a great source of fiber, potassium, folate, and B vitamins and are low in monounsaturated fat (2 grams).  A whole avocado has more than a third the daily allowance of vitamin C.  According to Wikipedia, because of its combination of aliphatic acetogenins, the avocado is under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity and is also under research for possible treatment of hypertension and diabetes.  That is some super fruit!   

I remember my first run-in with an avocado.  I was sitting in the back of a classroom my junior year of high school, when a friend of mine whipped the funny looking thing out. He had just returned from a trip to California during spring break. My face scrunched up like a sour puss and I would not venture to try it.  It looked completely unappealing to me then.  Fast forward 30 years, and as a transplant to California, it has become part of my regular weekly diet.  I spread it on toast, make guacamole, of course, or top a sandwich or taco with this creamy green delicacy.  I can’t imagine how its first impression turned me off, but we’ve been friends a long time now. 

The recipe for Chilled Avocado Soup, is something I made up from my memory of a visit to Paris, of all places.  I was at a party there several years ago for a friend of mine who had an art gallery opening.  It was late April and we had made our way to the apartment on a warm evening, but by way of the long walks through the metro and up into a neighborhood, then up three flights of stairs to our final destination.  The long journey made me intensely hungry and the beautiful green soup was waiting for us on the table in a white pitcher, ready to pour into a small serving cup. 

Avocado soup has a delicate flavor and with the lemon juice and freshly chopped herbs it will wow you!  The best part is that everything can be put into the cuisinart, it couldn’t be more simple to make.  Just what I like, delicious, simple and outstanding presentation!  Happy Cooking! 

Chilled Avocado Soup
With its bright green color, this soup says spring!  With the fresh herbs, garlic and buttermilk, it’s a refreshing spring on the cusp of summer soup.   I like to serve it before dinner as a small appetizer with chopped cherry tomatoes or a little dressed salad of arugula leaves. 

1 ripe avocado
1 red spring onion, finely chopped
2 garlic toes or 1 stalk green garlic, finely chopped
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup water, or chicken or vegetable broth
2TBS chopped Italian parsley
1 TBS fennel tops, dill, or parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Sauté the spring onion and garlic, on low temperature, with the olive oil until just translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  Put in a cuisinart and pulse.  Then add the avocado, lemon juice, buttermilk, salt and pepper and Italian parsley, pulse again until all ingredients have melded.  Slowly add about 1/2 cup water or stock and pulse.  You can decide at this point if you would like a thicker or thin soup simply by adding more water or stock.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  The flavors will develop more and taste even better in an hour or two.  When ready to serve pour into a bowl and top with freshly chopped herbs, chopped radish or finely chopped tomatoes. 

Recipe by Tricia O’Brien

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