Cold Cucumber and Avocado Soup

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2 pounds soft-skinned cucumbers
6 ounces watercress
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small jalapeño pepper (use more if it’s very mild)
1 large Haas avocado (7 ounces)
1-2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Trim the ends off the cucumbers, taste each end, and trim off any bitter part. Cut the cucumbers into cubes. Wash the watercress, remove any heavy stems, and chop it roughly. You should have about 2 cups.

2. Combine half the cucumbers and most of the lemon juice in the container of a blender and puree. The cucumbers will soon be a liquid, and you can then easily add the remaining cucumbers, the watercress, garlic, and jalapeño. Puree until everything is smooth, working in batches if you need to. (I find that my immersion blender does not work well with this raw soup.)

3. Cut the cucumber in half, remove the pit, peel the avocado, and cut the flesh into cubes; you should have not quite 1 cup of diced avocado. Add the avocado to the cucumber puree, along with a teaspoon of sea salt, and process again. The mixture will become thicker and creamier. Stir everything together in a bowl and taste. Add more lemon juice and more salt, a bit at a time and stirring thoroughly each time, until the balance feels right to you. I like to feel the citrus edge against the creaminess of the avocado, and while I don’t want adistinctly salty taste, the various flavors become clear only when the right amount of salt is added. Use your taste buds — it’s fun.

4. Chill the soup well. Serve it in small bowls, and drizzle each serving with a little fresh fruity olive oil, then scatter a few tomato cubes and croutons on top.

Garnishes:
Fruity green olive oil
1 ripe red tomato, finely diced
Homemade croutons (method follows)

Variations • Haas avocados are the ones with the almost black pebbly skin. They have more flavor and a creamier texture than the ones with the smoother, bright green skin.

• It’s important to taste the cucumbers before using. You don’t want any bitterness to mar the delicate flavors of the soup. This recipe is all about a balance of the various flavor components.

• If English cucumbers aren’t to be had, many farmers’ markets have the stubby

Notes This lovely and refreshing cold soup earns raves in the hot days of late summer. Serve it in small bowls, each cool green pool scattered with drops of

Cold Cucumber and Avocado Soup

olive oil, bright red cubes of tomato, and a few crisp croutons.

Long, soft-skinned cucumbers, called English, Armenian, or Persian cucumbers, are best for this soup because they can be used with skin and seeds. If they are very large, check for mature seeds and remove them, but a slender cucumber of this type generally has tiny, soft seeds that puree perfectly.

Watercress adds a little bite to the mild cucumber and avocado. Arugula can be used instead, or a bunch of cilantro, but choose one — don’t mix the flavors. This recipe is based on proportions for one large avocado and can easily be doubled.

pickling cukes that can be mild and sweet. Again, taste them before using.

2 sm cucumbers (peel, seed & dice)
4 cup chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
lemon, salt & pepper

1. Cook until cucumber is soft
2. Cool slightly and put through blender w/1 cup sour cream.
3. Season w/grated lemon rind and salt and pepper.

Chill thoroughly, sprinkle w/chives

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