Here in the United States we are fortunate to have plentiful supplies of Hass avocados, the pear-shaped variety with a pebbly skin ranging in color from dark green to almost black. Hass avocados are grown in California, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic. We are, therefore, assured of a good supply all year round.
Their taste and texture make them special. When they are ripe, their pale, yellow-green flesh is creamy smooth with lots of flavor. If you want to know when an avocado is ripe, color is one clue. The skin turns a dark green as the avocado ripens. Softness is another way to tell. If the avocado yields to gentle pressure, then it is ready to use.
Keep firm avocados at room temperature until ripe. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place the avocados in a closed brown paper bag. Ripe avocados will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
3 fully ripened avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced.
2 cups peeled and diced English cucumbers (these have no seeds)
3/4 cup fresh tomato, chopped
14 ounces ready-to-serve vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup coarsely broken tortilla chips
Preparation: Remove 1/2 cup diced avocado for later use (toss in a little of the lemon juice to prevent browning).
In a blender place the avocado, cucumber, tomato, onion, broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Chill. Just before serving, blend again.
Spoon gazpacho into four soup bowls, in the center of each bowl spoon a mound of the reserved avocado and sprinkle with chip pieces. If desired, top each serving with a sprig of cilantro.
This may be prepared up to one day ahead. Store in the refrigerator. Blend again. Serve as above.
If you would like to make this a main dish cold soup omit the tortilla chips and use:
1 pound cooked shelled medium shrimp (about 24)
1 5-ounce can lump crabmeat or 1 cup fresh crabmeat.
Sliced green onion for garnish.
Set aside 12 shrimp for garnish, then chop the remaining shrimp and stir them into the soup along with the crabmeat.
Garnish each bowl of soup with three shrimp each and some chopped green onion.
Serve with slices of crusty French or Italian bread spread with goats’ cheese or an herb garlic spread.