Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From the Cauldron: Chilled Avocado, Lime and Cilantro Soup

I love to make soups. Throughout the colder months, I prepare thick hearty soups that fill you up and warm the body - the perfect comfort food for times when we just feel like cocooning inside with a warm fuzzy blanket and a hot cup of tea.

Now that the weather is warmer  (its been a balmy 23C these past few days here in Vancouver), I look for ways to incorporate ingredients into healthy, lighter soups that don't fill you up as much as their winter counterparts...

When we visited Thailand several years ago, we noticed a great variety of soups on the menu and one that stood out for me was a cold avocado soup. Laced with lime and cilantro, this soup is light and refreshing, yet sturdy enough to fill you up just enough on a hot day, when the appetite is affected by the heat.

I had bought a bunch of avocados on my last visit to Costco and with the warmer temperatures they are ripening quite quickly - so I decided to make this delicious Chilled Avocado, Lime and Cilantro Soup as a light lunch today (and of course for Hubs to take to work). 

Avocados are often referred to as a 'vegetable', but are actually a fruit frequently called an 'avocado pear'. They grow in abundance in California and Mexico on tall trees and can weigh anywhere from 1 ounce to 4 pounds each! The inside flesh which surrounds a large pit has a rich buttery texture and greenish yellow colour when perfectly ripe.

Avocados are a good source of Vitamin E, which is not only essential for the normal functioning of the body but is also a potent anti-oxidant which protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes from free-radical attack. Free-radicals are linked to the beginnings of cancer and heart disease.

There are also good amounts of Vitamin C (necessary for the production of collagen needed for the growth of new cells and tissues, prevents viruses from penetrating cell membranes, and also a powerful anti-oxidant), thiamine (converts carbohydrates to glucose to fuel the brain and nervous system), and riboflavin (helps the body to release energy from proteins, carbohydrates and fat). It is true that avocados do have a high fat content. However, it is mono-unsaturated fat, which some studies show to actually help reduce cholesterol. The avocado is also low in calories. 

Avocado is also an excellent remedy for dry skin. Rub the inside of the skins against clean skin. For a face mask, mix 1/4 cup each of avocado puree and sour cream. Gently rub on face and neck, avoiding the sensitive areas around the eyes, and let it soak in about 15 minutes. Rinse with tepid water. Then gently massage the invisible oil into the skin with an upward and outward motion.

Chilled Avocado, Lime And Cilantro Soup
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
1 small onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used organic)
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Bragg's natural soy sauce
sea salt and pepper, to taste

For the Garnish:
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Shredded lime zest

1.Place first 6 ingredients plus 1/2 the chicken broth in blender and process until completely smooth.
2. Add remaining broth, vinegar and soy sauce and blend again; adjust seasoning by adding sea salt, pepper and lime juice, if needed. *You can serve the soup straight away, or cover it tightly with cling wrap to prevent discolouration and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
3. For the garnish, mix together sour cream with cilantro and lime juice; spoon onto soup and sprinkle with shredded lime zest. Serves 4.


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