Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Elephant Walk's Chilled Avocado and Citrus Soup

If I were stranded on a desert island and could pick only one food to have with me, I would pick this soup. 

That's a tough thing for me to say, since there are some really yummy meals on my top 10 list, including my mom's chicken pie... but I'm imagining that my desert island will be hot, and that a chilled soup will be ultimately more appealing than a hot comfort food. 

In all seriousness... this soup is yumTASTIC.  It is a lot of work, but the result is something that will have you thinking that yes, you DO deserve a show on the Food Network! 

Elephant Walk, for those of you not in the know, is a French-Cambodian restaurant that has a few locations in the Boston area.  I saw them featured on a local restaurant review show called The Phantom Gourmet yearsandyearsandyears ago, and knew I needed to go.  Some day.  I told this guy I was interested in at the time about it, and we decided we'd go together.  Things happened.  We stopped talking, I moved to California.  Many more years passed.  Guy and I started talking again, coast to coast.  Things got serious, and I came for a visit.  He surprised me with a dinner out at Elephant Walk, and I was wowed.  He remembered.  I had this soup. (Among other things.  Including wine.  Lots of wine.)  This guy?  We're married now.  Two kids.  Life is good. 

Soup is good. 

Here's the recipe...
(My additions/comments/suggestions will be like this, hiding in parenthesis)

Ingredients for 4 Servings (I have only ever made it in this portion size once.  The first time.  When two people love each other very much, they make a double batch so there is enough love to go around.):
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp salt
1 quart orange juice, freshly squeezed (or from a carton.  It's fine, really.)
1 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed (or from a plastic lime!)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic, chopped  (chopped, not smashed.  I made the mistake of using my magic bullet once for this step, and it was too much.  the garlic flavor was too strong for the soup.  I LOVE garlic, but it was just too overpowering for this.)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 avocados, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I pretty much always use extra avocado, because I love it.  THanks for that, SoCal!)
2/3 cup button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups plum tomatoes, diced without pulp
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Then do this:
1.  Cover the chopped onion with 1 tbsp salt for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse the salt completely off the onion, then drain and squeeze off excess water.  (You might read this step and say "Whatnow?!"  It's really important though to get the extra moisture out of the onions and to soften the flavor a bit.  If you don't do it, your soup will not be as yummy, and the elephants will be sad.)
2.  Mix remaining salt, black pepper, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, and sugar.
3.  Add olive oil and mix well.
4.  Add the diced avocados, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onion. Stir gently to mix.
5.  Let chill one hour before serving.  (Really, this is a better-the-next-day soup.  Give the flavors some time to get to know each other.  You'll be happy you did.)
6.  Directly before serving, add 1 tbsp cilantro to soup and stir to mix.

I'm trying to think of a "best served with" suggestion, but I'm not sure we've ever served it with anything except fresh crusty bread and some warm butter.  At the restaurant, we "serve it" with whatever looks yummy on the menu... so I'd say that a nice white fish meal and some veggies would go well with it!  If you have a second, look at their menu!  It will leave you salivating, for realz.  

Oh, and in case you were thinking that my love story is a fairytale... it is.  Sort of.  A very complicated, not always pretty, but always always worth it he's-my-soulmate-for-sure-for-better-or-worse kind of fairytale.  More on that later.  Maybe.  :)

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