Douglas Keane is such a fan of chilled soups that he puts at least one on his menu every season including winter. The combination of cucumber and red wine vinegar in this recipe reminds him of the wonderful Greek salads he had growing up outside of Detroit, Michigan, home to a huge Greek community.
More Cold Soups
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
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
How to Make It
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.
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.
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.
Place the shrimp in soup bowls, spoon the cucumber soup all around and drizzle the shrimp sauce on top. Sprinkle with the mint and serve right away.
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.
This luscious soup needs a full-bodied white, but one that has good acidity, too. Sonoma's cool morning fogs help Chardonnay keep its edge.
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