The end of July has just been too summery – the sun’s been shining for many days and the temperature has reached the remarkable 28 degrees C several times. That’s what I call real summer! Wow! And when it’s this hot outside something with a cooling effect is just about perfect. But when you have had the third ice cream for the day or when you’re out of chilled drinks there are other alternatives that will cool you off in the summer sun – something that doesn’t include tons of sugar, something that’s actually really healthy, satisfying and refreshing at the same time – I’m speaking of chilled soups. You know the gazpacho type of soup that you throw ice into just before serving. It’s super nice and energizing this time of the year.
I made my soup with avocado, cucumber, coriander/cilantro and parsley since it’s a great flavor combination and it gives the soup that silky smooth texture that just slips down the throat leaving a refreshing taste in your mouth. Some garlic, chili, shallots and red wine vinegar enhances the freshness by adding a slight pungent note, a well-balanced acidity and just enough heat. A heat that sort of just lies there in the background and gives the soup a wonderful body without being too spicy and overpowering. A piece of toasted bread and some garlic fried shrimps are great complements to the soup. But don’t be misled by the picture and throw the shrimps right into the soup, I found it much more palatable serving the shrimps on the side as I made the second time I cooked up this dish. When serving them in a separate little bowl you get that nice contrast between warm shrimps and ice cold soup. And not to forget – you’re then able to dip the toast in that lovely garlic oil juices and that is really delightful.
This is the kind of soup that you can bring to the picnic. Just fill a thermos and add some crushed ice and you have the perfect cooler for the beach or the hike. Our plan was to consume the soup under burning sun in the swing chair on our balcony – but a swinging motion and two bowls with liquid soup isn’t that brilliant 😛 Luckily we stopped ourselves before the soup had the time to slip over the edge. A wide open terrace door and inside eating worked just fine. At least it did for us.
The first half of August haven’t come across as nice as I was hoping for but I cross my fingers for more warm summer breezes so that we could indulge in many more chilled soups. It’s still not to late for the summer to return 😛
Chilled Avocado Cucumber Soup with Fried Garlic Shrimps – 4 Lunch- or 8 Starter Servings
150 g avocado (1 piece)
350 g cucumber (1 piece)
½-1 green chili
1 garlic clove
15 g parsley (a small bunch)
15 g coriander/cilantro (a small bunch)
50 g peeled shallots (1 piece)
50 g extra virgin olive oil
30 g red wine vinegar
225 g water
4-8 slices of bread
16 big, raw shrimps (the king- tiger prawn kind, just make sure they come from sustainable sources)
4 garlic cloves
Soup. Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone by a steady thwack, using the heel of your knife to grab the stone. With a twisting motion remove the pit from the rest of the avocado. Be careful when removing the stone from the knife so you don’t cut yourself; I find it easiest to lean the stone towards the cutting board while giving the stone a push with your thumb (for a more accurate approach of how to destone an avocado click here). Scoop out the avocado flesh and put it in a mixing bowl.
Cut the cucumber into bigger chunks, peel and roughly chop the shallots, garlic and chili and place that alongside the avocado. Remove the seeds and the white inner membrane from the chili since you just want a slight heat this time. Roughly tear the herbs into big pieces and place them in the bowl as well. I used the stalks of the coriander and parsley since they were quite delicate, but if you find them too harsh and woody only use the leafs. Just make sure you get 15 g of each herb in total regardless of if the stalks are removed or not. Use a blender stick or a food processor and mix to a thick but smooth puree. This will probably take a few minutes depending on how powerful your mixer is. Add the wet ingredients (olive oil, vinegar and water) and season with salt. Blend until everything is fully incorporated. Cool the soup in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
To serve. Thaw the shrimps if frozen and peel them, leaving the most outer part of the tail still intact on so that you have something to hold on to when eating. Don’t forget to devein them by giving them a shallow cut alongside the back before carefully removing the vein with the tip of the knife (for a more accurate approach of how to deveining shrimps click here). Peel and finely chop the garlic as well as the coriander
Slice and fry the bread on medium heat in some oil until nicely golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Bring the heat up to high. Add a splash of olive oil and then the shrimps. Fry for one minute. You don’t want overcooked shrimps since they tend to get a gummy like texture so keep the cooking time down to a minimum. Pour another generous splash of olive oil into the pan alongside with the garlic and a pinch of salt after half the cooking time. When the shrimps are pink and it smells fragrant from the garlic it’s time to introduce the coriander to the pan. Toss everything around and transfer to a separate bowl.
Take the soup out of the fridge and pour it into glasses or bowls with some crushed ice. Serve with roasted bread and the warm garlic shrimps.