Saturday, April 26, 2008

Green Food for Earth Day

As a belated recognition of Earth Day - and because Earth Day should be every day, right? - I'd like to post on the green foods I ate this week.  To start with, these wonderful Anjou Pears I bought at Lake Produce: I was enthralled by how the green of the pears matched one of my new plates.  They were juicy and firm, and a great treat with a bit of soy cheese (cheese enthusiasts groan here, but lactose intolerants rejoice).

I also made an avocado vichyssoise (in French, this can be read to mean either "avocado vichyssoise" or "lawyer vichyssoise") from one of my new favorite cookbooks: Paris in a Basket.

So far I have made madeleines and a great chocolate-almond cake from that book, and both were wonderful recipes.  This avocado soup also turned out well - and matched another of my new dishes - although I must admit that cold soups are still growing on me, and I did tire of it after eating it for several days.  Lesson learned: make this soup when there are people to share it with.

This soup is another lactose-less option; vichyssoise in its typical leek and potato version is heavy on the cream, while this soup gets it creaminess from the avocados.  Much healthier!

Vichyssoise D'Avocat, taken from Paris in a Basket
  • 2 Haas avocados
  • 3 medium boiling potatoes
  • 4 C chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
If making the chicken stock from scratch, prepare ahead of time and let cool.  Remove the congealed layer of fat before adding to the soup.

Peel and boil potatoes, quartered and well covered by water, until well cooked.  Let cool.

Combine avocado pulp, potatoes , cumin, and 1 C cold stock in a blender or food processor.  Blend to form a smooth puree, adding the remaining stock gradually.  The consistency of the soup should be thick and creamy.  Make sure your blender or food processor is large enough to handle this amount of liquid; an immersion blender may work well in a large pot, although I have not tried this.  I was forced to whisk in the final bit of stock in a pot because my 11-cup processor was too small, but it will be better incorporated by a blender.

Taste, adjust seasoning, and cool for a couple of hours before serving.  Stir the soup and serve in four chilled bowls, garnish with a few pink peppercorns and cilantro leaves, or chili powder and pepper as I did here, and serve.  If you are going to store this soup for a day or more, beware of the oxidation effect - the surface of it will grow dark as it's exposed to the air, which is unattractive although still edible.

Ways to make this food truly "green": buy all organic produce, go shopping with reusable bags, compost the peels and cores, and unplug the appliances when you're done with them.  Not that hard to do!  Happy Earth Day!

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