Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chilled pea and avocado soup with shrimp and corn salad

No great story behind this I'm afraid. Given the giganto avocados we get here in Florida and our CSA's insistence on giving us several at a time, I'm always looking for avocado-centric dishes. I stumbled across a recipe for pea and avocado soup, found a handful more (which means that this is a known recipe. I never thought of putting peas and avocado together, much less in a cold soup, but it must be common somewhere or have gone through a fad of popularity at some point. Have any of you heard of this before?), picked through them for ideas and worked out my own, rather more elaborate, version.

1/2 cup tiny shrimp or crab meat
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
1/2 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
an equal amount of roasted red pepper as the tomato, chopped
1 small handful cilantro, stems and leaves separated. Leaves chopped.
1/2 lime, juiced
extra-virgin olive oil
vinegar-based hot sauce

olive oil
1/2 of a medium onion (or a few scallions), chopped
1 jalapeño or other meaty, not too hot, pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
the cilantro stems from above
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 cups chicken stock (homemade is, as always, much preferred)
2 cups small sweet peas
1 large avocado, chopped or just scooped out if it's as old as the ones I've got
1/3 cup sour cream
salt and pepper

1. Mix the shrimp, corn, tomato, red pepper and cilantro leaves in a small bowl. Salt well, dress with copious amounts of lime juice and olive oil and hot sauce to taste. Make it a little hotter than you'd like, actually. Set aside in the refrigerator.

2. Heat a Tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. When it's hot, add the onion, pepper and garlic with a sizable pinch of salt. Cook for four minutes, turning down the heat if they start to brown, add the cilantro stems and cook for one minute more. Take off the heat and stir in the cumin. If your peas need cooking, use a larger pan and add them after the first minute.

3. Scrape pan into a blender, add stock and peas. Blend smooth. Add avocado and sour cream and blend again. Salt and pepper (and cumin) to taste. Also adjust the texture with a bit more stock or avocado if you've got them to hand, water and sour cream if you don't. Some recipes call for straining it, but if it's chunky, blend it some more instead.

Serve soup topped with a sizable spoonful of the salad and a good drizzle of the dressing. Maybe with a chunk of hearty brown bread.

The soup tastes of peas and avocados naturally, sweet and creamy rounded out with touches of savor and spice from the additional ingredients and a slow burn in the background from the pepper. Each component of the salad, which separate out so you get one or two per spoonful, is a bright burst of flavor--salty, acid and spicy on top of its clearly delineated individual character. It's just gorgeous stuff. My expectations were far exceeded, here.


kat said...

I've never heard of this either

Karen said...

The first part seems like seviche, or cebeche, and the second part seems like making soup out of some of the condiments of ceviche (however you prefer to spell it). So I'm thinking if the avocado wasn't a soup candidate, it could all be a gorgeous salad as well - and, for those of us allergic to shellfish, a ceviche of any kind of fish would also have a similar result. Don't you think? Anyway, thanks for this - great idea for these sultry summer days!

billjac said...

The resemblance to ceviche did strike me as I was putting the salad together, but the low seafood to vegetable ratio gave it a different feel at the end.

There was so little, in fact, including any seafood at all is entirely optional. If you were going to make a salad out of it, I could see including fish and doing a proper marination, but I'm not digging the concept of a cold fish soup.

You could just leave seafood out entirely and the dish would be just fine vegetarian or some crispy fried serano ham might be a nice substitution.