On the last day of spring, I went to the Queen Victoria Market to meet my work colleague Judy. Summer was definitely in the air! It was a warm day and the produce aisles were fragrant with ripening fruit and vegetables. Piles of lettuces, asparagus, tomatoes, cherries, peaches, nectarines all speak to me of warm lazy summer days. My bag of cherries, basil, peaches and bread that I brought home smelt heavenly.
The bread I bought was a sourdough loaf from one of my favourite bakeries - La Madre - in Geelong. It is a really substantial bread with a chewy crust and dense crumb that smells wonderfully sour.
My main aim in planning dinner was to showcase the bread and as I had a ripe avocado at home, I decided on a summery avocado soup. I sought out some green gazpacho soup recipes on the internet which were similar to my thoughts but I didn’t have the cucumbers and green tomatoes required for the traditional gazpacho. The recipes which most took my fancy were here and here because they included the herbs and salad greens which I wanted to use. I was intrigued by the latter recipe which soaked tomatoes and lemongrass in vodka overnight but unfortunately I didn’t even have the time to consider it.
The soup I made was a combination of green vegetables and herbs finely chopped in the food processor with some of the vegan ‘cheese’ sauce from the previous night. I served it cool with toasted sourdough bread. Although the texture was coarse, the avocado and 'cheese' gave it a creaminess which was lightened with the fresh taste of greens and herbs that was more akin to salad than soup. E even said it was quite nice cool, despite preferring his soups hot (I gave him the option of the microwave if he didn’t like it cold). If I had had the energy I would have done a tomato salsa with tomatoes, olives and sundried tomatoes to serve on top of the soup. Maybe next time!
It seemed a perfect soup to eat outside in our backyard. We have started eating dinner al fresco fairly regularly at our outdoor table setting. Often our pussy cat encourages us to come out – she comes to our fly wire door and miaows at us – if she was a dog I am sure she would beg! So as the days heat up our house, we are having more evenings when it is pleasant to enjoy the cooling breezes outdoors at the end of the day.
Cool Green Spring Soup
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped
½ medium zucchini, chopped
¼ red onion, chopped
1 cup iceberg lettuce
1 cup baby spinach
Handful of parsley
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp stock powder
1 cup water
⅔ cup vegan cheese sauce (or yoghurt or sour cream)
Tabasco sauce to taste
Place asparagus, zucchini and onion in a container loosely covered with lid or clingwrap in microwave on high for 1½ minutes, or til just tender. Then chop finely in food processor. Finely chop lettuce, spinach, and herbs in food processor. Blend avocado in food processor. (My food processor is small so I did these in separate batches.) Place chopped vegetables in a medium bowl.
Dissolve the stock in a little boiling water and add cold water to make one cup. Mix lemon juice and stock in with chopped vegetables. Add vegan cheese sauce or yoghurt and mix well (if you add yoghurt or sour cream you may need to add some seasoning). Sprinke with some Tabasco sauce to taste.
Serve cold with fresh bread and tomato salsa.
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