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Friday, July 07, 2006

Cucumber Avocado Soup: Recipe

Last Summer I spent my birthday up in the Napa valley. I stayed at a spa, went wine tasting and ate out, of course. It was sunny and relaxing and just a little bit indulgent. I had a terrific time and especially terrific meals, the highlight of which was a cool creamy soup at chef Douglas Keane's restaurant Market, in St. Helena.

Frankly the soup ingredients sounded like a spa treatment--yogurt, cucumber, avocado, was it a soup or a facial? Inspired to create my own version I gathered a whole bunch of fresh green ingredients and started experimenting. If your cold soup repertoire consists of gazpacho, try this one on for size. It's a great solution for dinner on a hot night, especially since it can be made in minutes and without heating up the kitchen.

So how is my soup different from Keane's? Rather than using red wine vinegar, I used lime juice. I used only yogurt, no buttermilk. I also peeled the cucumbers which means the soup does not need to be strained. I garnished the soup with a little diced cucumber and some dill. But on reflection I remembered Keane's soup had some mint. No bother. I am convinced mint, dill, chives, cilantro or chervil would work.

Note: Though raw and vegetarian, this soup isn't vegan, but it easily could be. I tasted the soup before adding the yogurt and it was very good that way. So if you want to leave it out, by all means do. Either way it makes a very virtuous meal.

Cucumber Avocado Soup
makes 4 servings


4 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small, about 1-inch chunks (2 - 3 cucumbers)
1 cup avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed up (2 -3 avocados)
2/3 cup plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
pinch sugar
pinch salt

1/4 cup cucumber diced for garnish
fresh herb of choice for garnish (dill, cilantro, mint, etc.)


Puree the cucumbers in a blender until completely smooth. Add the avocados, yogurt, lime juice and blend, blend, blend until silky smooth.

Chill thoroughly if not already cold, correct seasonings with salt and sugar. Serve each portion with a garnish of about one tablespoon of diced cucumber and minced herbs or a dollop of yogurt.