Chilled avocado, cucumber, wasabi and yogurt soup.
The first cold soup happened in Tulsa, where a benevolent hostess overlooked a hillbilly guest's drinking of the finger bowl. Soon after, hot potato purée was turned into fashionably refreshing cold vichyssiose and began flowing like champagne. Food fashion has advanced.
Gone are the days when serving a bowl of broth in summer is the cuisine equivalent of wearing white after Labor Day. (Which is okay, btw.)
On a hot night I love to dine al fresco, nipples to the wind, and tuck in to a cold starter. Anyone can toss some salad on a plate and scatter some cucumbers on top. But it takes a skilled entertainer to offer this impressive, handcrafted dish. This soup is a sippable salad. And it's one of my favorite make-ahead courses for a summer dinner party.
Everyone wants to simplify. I just want two things in the dinner party of life: Spend more time with my guests and get back to a time when I wasn't always looking for wifi.
This soup is easy to make, good for your body and the color of money.
Grab for six servings:
2 English cucumbers
4 Ripe avocados
Salt and pepper
One 5-year old as sous chef
Dig out these:
You can switch hit the levels of quality in the ingredients like a major league baseball player with a daddy complex. If you want all organic, go for it. I use English cucumbers because they have less seeds. The avocados must be ripe so they blend. Limes, the eunuchs of citrus since they have no seeds, make your job easier, and more importantly, they match the other green ingredients. Monochromaticity is important; we eat with our eyes and we all know the more attractive something or someone is, the more successful they will be.
1. Peel the cucumbers. This 5-year old shows you how easy it is, and she works for hugs.
Don't strip them down too much, just get the darkest green bitter skin off. When I was a kid, my brothers and I would get sunburned and then have contests to see who could peel the largest piece of skin off the other's back. You know you've peeled too much when your victim screams.
Chop the ends off, cut the shaft into 5-6 inch long chunks, then slice those down the center to split them in two.
2. Use the edge of your spoon to dig out the tiny seeds. They're the appendix of cucumbers, not needed and without them your soup will be smoother.
Start at one end, hold the cucumber still, scrape along the top, slide the gushy seed row down and away.
Toss the cucumber canoes in the blender with reckless abandon.
3. Slice the the avocados in half, then if you still have the attention of the kid, let them scoop the meat out. Dump the avocado in the blender.
Check out your cutting board -- if you're composting, look at all you have to add! If you're not, why not?
4. Add two heaping tablespoons of yogurt to the blender. I prefer Greek, but who doesn't love a good, hunky Greek? Such passion, such rhythm -- oh wait, Greek yogurt? Well, it's just better.
Don't use one with gelatin. Ever.
To make this dish vegan, substitute yogurt with fermented almond yogurt. You'll need to quit your job and spend months learning this process, during which you'll go insane and develop a facial tick from frustration, ironically only cured by eating meat. Or just skip this ingredient -- it'll still be delicious and you can sleep with a clear conscious.
5. Loosen up the lime's juices by rolling them around on the counter with your palm and push it down with the intent to pop it -- but hold back. Be that mean girl that can't commit.
Cut the limes in half, and use a reamer or a juicer or your mind to get the juice out and into the blender. Look behind you and make sure the kid is staying busy on her cucumber peeling task.
6. Remember all that leftover wasabi you threw away from your sushi trays? I said you'd regret it one day. Now you have to buy some. Who the hell buys wasabi?!
Tip: If your grocery store has a live sushi chef on site, ask nicely and they might slide you a little wad.
If you have to buy some of the Japanese crack, I like the powdered canned version. Be that molecular gastronomist that never gets invited to parties; just add water and stir into a paste. Add about a teaspoon to the soup. Don't let the wasabi overpower the gentle avocado, or the sweet cucumber -- this is a Benetton ad soup, everyone needs to get along harmoniously.
7. Sprinkle regular, iodized salt and freshly ground pepper on the top like fairy dust. Since the use of fancy sea salt has risen, so have neck goiters. Iodine keeps bulging goiters at bay.
You think pricey sea salt is chic? Try to work a goiter while wearing a Gucci suit next spring. You'll be one horrifyingly bumpy not happening.
8. Blend on high till you sense the velvety, satiny smooth voice of Ella Fitzgerald. Don't stop at Barry White, he's crushed velvet and that's too soon.
If it's too thick, borrow a doll's teacup from the little kid and add bits of water until you're happy.
Voilà -- a creation worth ten steps but done in eight. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. It serves about six. Any leftover keeps in the fridge and can be given a re-whirring in the blender.
Don't worry about inventory control from your kitchen help. No kid will eat this soup; just use them for the labor.