Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Avocado Soup

Ok, I’m totally cheating on this one.  The onions are left over from a trip to the Market WEEKS ago, and the avocados came from a friend’s tree, so technically they’re not from the Market.  But I figured it doesn’t get much more local and seasonal than fruit off someone’s tree, so what the heck!  The bacon came from the grocery, but was humane and sustainable (Niman Ranch), and the lemon was from the Market.  Everything else was either stuff I needed to use up, or stuff I usually have in the house anyway (like half-and-half: organic, but not raw).  (But I have GOT to post that fennel salad recipe, because I did finally make that the other night.  :))

The weird thing is that this isn’t at ALL what I set out intending to make.  But more on that after the recipe . . .

Ingredients:
3 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (or chopped, then cooked – either way works)
1/2 Tbs butter, if needed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
2 medium-large avocados, mashed
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 Tbs lemon juice (or 1/2 of a juicy lemon)
salt and pepper to taste

The Recipe:
If you’re chopping, then cooking the bacon: in a large saucepan, cook the bacon.  Add the butter, if necessary.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon bits and set aside.  NOTE: if you have some pre-cooked bacon, skip this part and just melt 1 Tbs of butter in the pan.

Add the red onions to the bacon fat and/or butter and sautee until soft.  Add 1/4 cup wine and sautee a little longer, about 5 minutes (so the alcohol cooks off).  Add 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.

While the broth heats, peel and chop the avocados.  Mash them up, using either a potato masher or the food processor.  (They’ll be a little too thick for a blender, unless you’ve got a really good one.)  If necessary, add 1/4 cup of the half-and-half to make them easier to mash. 

When the broth comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the mashed avocado, whisking to smooth it out.  Add the rest of the half-and-half, HALF of the creme fraiche or sour cream and lemon juice.  Heat, but don’t boil.  Taste and add salt and pepper until you like it.

Serve with the remaining creme fraiche or sour cream dolloped on top, with the bacon bits on top of that.

NOTE: I like “bits” in my soup, but if you want a smoother soup, stick an immersion blender in it and blend it smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can process the soup in a blender in batches, but be careful: hot soup tends to splash.

How did it go?
Weeeelllllll . . . it was GOOD.  But it was RICH.  My mistake was in adding the lemon juice, frankly.  But here’s what happened: I got to the point where I had the avocado with a 1/4 cup of half-and-half in there, and some salt and pepper, and it was . . . well, frankly it was bland.  So I figured some lemon juice would perk it up – but I forgot how juicy those Market lemons are, and I blithely squeezed the whole half right into the pot.  Oops.  When I tasted it, it was ALL. LEMON. And not in a good way.  So I had to add more fat to counter the acidity of the lemon, thus ending up with an incredibly rich soup.  Which I hadn’t intended at ALL. 

 So.  If I were going to do this again (and I probably will – it was really good, and the base had a lot of potential), I’d skip the bacon (too much work for the payoff, in my opinion – and I LOVE bacon, so that’s saying something!), add a clove of garlic in with the onions and leave the lemon out altogether.  If I did that, I think I could get away with 1/4 cup of half-and-half, and I might use 3 cups of broth instead of 4, so the avocado would help thicken the soup a little more. 

But you know, I’d also keep another 1/4 cup of half-and-half (and maybe some sour cream) on hand.  Just in case.  😉

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