When I first saw this recipe for Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup by Gary Durrant, Head Chef at Hunter 486, my first thought was "hmmm, cold soup, not too sure". I know that gazpacho is very popular and Madhouse Daddy guzzled his way through loads of it while we were in Lanzarote, but I don't know, I've never been totally convinced. It did sound like the perfect heat-busting recipe though so I decided to read on a bit more. Cucumber, yep, OK ... oh hold on ... COOKED cucumber ?? Boiled with vegetable stock ?? Really ???! Well, I'm always willing to try anything once and it turns out that it was actually very nice, like a more virtuous version of guacamole without the mayonnaise.
Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup
Ingredients (To serve 4)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed and sliced
650 ml vegetable stock
1 medium avocado
½ cucumber peeled, seeds removed and cut into small cubes
40g peeled brown shrimps
4 sprigs dill
Cook the chopped onions and garlic in a little vegetable oil until soft and translucent.
I used lemon-infused olive oil to add extra flavour.
Peel and deseed the cucumber. To do this, I cut it into thirds, peeled each section with a potato peeler and cut it into quarters. Then I used a sharp knife to cut out the core with the seeds in it.
Add the sliced cucumber to the pot and cook for approximately 10 minutes until the cucumber is soft. I'd never tasted cooked cucumber before but it's actually very tasty and doesn't go soggy, as I'd imagined.
Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. (I used a Knorr vegetable stock pot which gave it a brown colour - it's supposed to stay bright green.)
Remove to a bowl.
Madhouse Daddy is usually the one to make soup so he came into the kitchen to have a nosey at this point !
Place in a liquidiser (or use a stick blender) and whizz until it is smooth. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl, and place this in a bowl of ice to chill the soup.
When the soup is cold, peel and chop the avocado. (Yes, OK, I am a big kid and I keep myself amused !)
It is very important that the soup is cold before you add the avocado otherwise it will go brown and you are looking for a bright green colour.
Add the avocado to the soup and blend again until it is smooth. Season with salt and black pepper.
To serve pour into a chilled soup bowl and sprinkle over the peeled brown shrimps, the cubed cucumber and the chopped dill. (Oops, when I wrote up the recipe, I realised that I forgot to add diced cucumber on top, which is why you can't see any in the photo !)
It is a healthy and refreshing dish, perfect for an alfresco lunch or a light supper during this hot weather. It tastes similar to guacamole and goes very well with the prawns.
This dish features on the new menu at Hunter 486. Named after the 1950s dialling code for Marylebone, Hunter 486 is the stylish restaurant within five-star boutique hotel The Arch London.
(The Arch London, 50 Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch, London W1H 7FD)