Is it chilled yet?

Is it chilled yet?
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First Published: Sat, Jul 19 2008. 12 08 AM IST

Finishing touch: The shrimp adds a Mexican character to the soup.
Finishing touch: The shrimp adds a Mexican character to the soup.
Updated: Sat, Jul 19 2008. 12 08 AM IST
Little or no cooking is one way to keep the kitchen cool in summer, but if the food you produce is cool (and delicious, of course), that’s a real plus.
Cold soups are a common solution. It’s difficult to imagine one simpler than this one, and impossible to imagine one richer and creamier.
Finishing touch: The shrimp adds a Mexican character to the soup.
And yet there’s no cream (OK, there’s milk). The key — not exactly a secret — is avocado, as rich and fat-filled (but it’s good fat!) a fruit as there is.
In fact, the two main ingredients in this no-cook, serve-cold soup are so rich that it takes a fair amount of lime juice to balance things out (lemon juice, orange juice or a blend would also be good).
Though it’s not even close to essential, you can add not only acidity but textural contrast with some chopped tomato or halved cherry or grape tomatoes. What I really like in here, though, is some small (or chopped) shrimp. Along with cilantro, they not only give the soup a pleasantly Mexican character, but turn it into a meal.
It helps to make the soup a couple of hours in advance, so that it is good and cold before serving. That, in turn, raises two other issues, both minor.
Generally speaking, cold food needs more salt than hot food does, so be sure to taste before serving, or at least put a salt shaker on the table.
And, it would defeat the purpose of making a cold soup to serve it in bowls at room temperature, when room temperature is approaching 100 degree Celsius. Chill the bowls in the freezer, or with ice, before filling with soup.
Ultrafast Avocado Soup
Serves four
Ingredients:
About 2 cups chopped ripe avocado flesh (3 or 4 small avocados)
3 cups milk, preferably whole
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
A handful or more of small cooked shrimp
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
Method:
Put chopped avocado in a blender. Add half the milk, a large pinch of salt and a small pinch of cayenne. Process to a purée. Add the remaining milk and purée, then chill for up to 6 hours if you have time (cover the bowl of soup with a plastic wrap so that it does not discolour). Add lime juice, taste, then adjust seasoning, if necessary. Garnish with shrimp and parsley or cilantro, and serve.
©2008/The New York Times
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First Published: Sat, Jul 19 2008. 12 08 AM IST