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A Menu By Three Great Southwestern Cuisine Chefs

Avocado Soup with Mexican Marigold Pico de Gallo

From Jeff Blank's cookbook Cooking Fearlessly.

Photograph by Kimberly Davis. Food styling by Nicki Longoria.

It’s recommended you use the Hass avocado – that’s the one with the pebbly skin that’s almost black in color. The Fuerte is the other common type you’ll see. This soup should be made only a few hours before service, because the avocado will begin to oxidize. The soup will still taste good the next day, but will have khaki color tones.

2 cups chicken stock, reduced to 1 cup and chilled
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 ¼ cups cashews
4 avocados, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and diced
½ small red onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup buttermilk
1 large bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
¾ spinach, raw, packed
4 ounces goat cheese
2 large jalapeños, seeded or not
1 ½ teaspoons salt
8 lemon wheels – for garnish 

Toast cashews in large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. In blender, combine stock and lime juice with the toasted cashews and blend. Put avocados, garlic, onion, buttermilk, cilantro, spinach, goat cheese and jalapeños in a mixing bowl. Begin adding ingredients from the bowl into the cashew paste in blender and whip until smooth. (If your blender isn’t large enough, transfer purée to another bowl and continue to purée in small batches. Then, stir all together.) Adjust seasoning. Chill for an hour and serve with lemon wheel twists and Mexican Marigold Pico de Gallo (recipe below). 

Serves 6 to 8.

Mexican Marigold Pico de Gallo 

1 ½ cups plum tomato, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
½ cup yellow bell pepper, diced
¼ cup shallot, minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, minced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped (Mexican Marigold if possible)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

Yields 2 ½ cups (service size: ¼ cup).

Excerpted from the book COOKING FEARLESSLY by Jeff Blank and Jay Moore. (c) 1999 by Jeff Blank and Jay Moore. Reprinted by permission of Jeff Blank. All rights reserved.

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