Last night, we had one of our gourmet group gatherings. Our assigned recipe to bring was this delicious, chilled soup. I needed to make a couple of 'tweaks' to the recipe as I found the soup too thick and just a bit bland. With just a couple of adjustments it turned out wonderful and got rave reviews at dinner.
The star of the show was the spicy shrimp and shrimp sauce which is probably the most time-consuming part of the recipe. Luckily, it can be made the day before. Even the soup can be made ahead which makes this a wonderful recipe if you have a busy day.
You need to buy shell-on shrimp in order to make the shrimp sauce as the shrimp shells are used to make a flavorful shrimp reduction.
The drizzle of sauce around the shrimp flavor the cool cucumber avocado soup beautifully. It a wonderful contrast of hot and cold, spicy and mellow.
I know Mother's Day is celebrated at different times in different parts of the world but here are a few of my spring flowers to wish the mothers of the world a joyous day. Happy Mother's Day!
Cucumber-Avocado Soup with Spicy Shrimp Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine
My Notes: When I tasted the soup after preparing the recipe as written, I found it a little bland and far too thick so I added the chicken broth to thin the soup (you could use vegetable stock) and added the Tabasco to 'brighten' the flavor. I made the soup and shrimp sauce the day before and sauteed the shrimp just before serving.
1 large European cucumber, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Hass avocados—pitted, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
8 oz chicken broth or stock
Several good dashes of Tabasco
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, thinly sliced crosswise
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 cups water
1 tablespoon honey
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 mint leaves, chopped
In a blender, combine the cucumber, avocados, buttermilk, vinegar, sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of the lime juice and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine sieve and refrigerate until chilled, about 40 minutes. (I used a food processor and got a good puree so didn't need to strain). Add enough chicken or vegetable broth to obtain the desired consistency and flavor with a few splashes of Tabasco. Taste and adjust seasonings.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shrimp shells, garlic, shallot and carrot and cook over moderate heat, stirring until the shells are lightly browned, and the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the peppercorns, coriander seeds, crushed red pepper and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the water, honey and remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Strain the shrimp sauce into a heatproof bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Turn the shrimp, add the shrimp sauce and simmer just until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Swirl in the butter.
Ladle the soup in soup bowls, spoon the hot shrimp into the middle and drizzle the shrimp sauce on top. Sprinkle with the chopped mint and serve.
Make Ahead The cucumber soup and shrimp sauce can be refrigerated overnight separately. Reheat the shrimp sauce gently before using. If you are short on time, the cucumber-avocado soup is delicious on its own. Just follow the recipe through step 1, then serve with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped mint.