Really, it can be any of those things.
Before we jump into the recipe, I want to tell you a little bit about how I want to approach cooking here.
I cook to taste – even when following a recipe.Meaning, I adjust seasonings, I substitute ingredients. I use the recipe more as a guidebook than as a strict set of rules to follow.
This ability is what I love most about cooking.
It’s customizable. It’s personal. It’s just for you. (And your lucky family members.)
But you have to be comfortable with your cooking. You need to be ready to taste something and say, “Wow. That was mediocre. Better luck next time.” It happens to all of us and it’s how you really learn to cook. (For example, I overcooked my omelet this morning because I’m not that great at cooking eggs.)
I started cooking in middle school – maybe a little earlier. Whenever the stove was no longer off limits. I made a lot of tomato sauces that year. A lot of times not even making pasta with it. I would sautee tomatoes with whatever kind of vegetables were around.
I ate a lot of mushrooms that year.
But the point is, I wasn’t afraid to throw things in the pan and see what happened. I learned lessons about what worked and what did not.
How much olive oil was too much.
What flavors blended with together.
And those that did not.
Which order to cook veggies in so everything was the right texture.
This isn’t the only way to cook, of course. Recipes teach you a lot about cooking. I’m planning to start making a strict recipe dish once a week or so and discussing what I learned from it with you. It’s the perfect thing to do to learn a new technique or to utilize a new ingredient. I’m ready to spice up my kitchen a little more!
Soon, I’d also like to start doing the same thing with baking. I need a recipe when baking like I need my morning cup of coffee – or things are not pretty.
With all that in mind, cooking to taste isn’t about being Emeril or Giada or Martha.
It’s about being you. It’s about cooking to please your tastes and the tastes of your families.
A word about my recipe writing: The first half of the recipe is the base of the dish – things that need to be a little more in place before you can start experimenting. The second half is the “To Taste” portion where you have a lot of freedom with the flavors involved. I am providing so much information about each ingredient because this is what I find really interesting about cooking and if you’re looking to learn more about using your ingredients, this is the kind of discussion you’re after.
Cucumber Avocado Soup (or Dip!) (or Spread!)
A cold soup.
Serves: 6-10 (Six if you’re serving as a soup with bread or meat, 10 or more if you’re serving it as a dip or using it as a spread)
I served this with some meatballs I made to go with it. I was craving falafel and didn’t have the ingredients (or the know-how – future post!) to make that, so I whipped up some meatballs. This soup can be really reminiscent of tzatziki, it would be great in sandwiches or as a dip with pita and veggies.
It would also be really fun to start a dinner party with little bowls of this and little bowls of gazpacho and hot tortilla chips.
3-4 ripe Avocados – halved, peeled, and pitted
I used three, but next time I would use four so the avocado flavor can stand out more. They do need to be ripe or a little overripe or the texture will be off.
1 English Cucumber – peeled and roughly chopped
Those are the long thin ones, using two or three regular cucumbers would be fine as well.
1 Garlic Clove – peeled and sliced
Raw garlic has a very strong, very spicy flavor and the one clove was plenty for this dish. Use two if the cloves are small or half if you don’t want a powerful garlic flavor.
I used about 1/2 cup and thought it was plenty. I would even cut down a bit the next time I made it so the cucumbers and avocados carried the dish a little more. Use plain yogurt if you want a less tangy flavor. You can leave this out completely for a vegan version of the dish.
Fresh Jalapeno – remove the seeds
I only used a few pieces, next time I would use a whole one. You can throw in a few seeds for extra heat, but really, only a couple because it gets really hot really fast. I recently pan fried the rest of that jalapeno for another dish I made and I would be interested in adding a pan fried or roasted jalapeno to this soup. It would take it in a completely different direction.
Mexican Chile Powder
This spice is more smoky than actually spicy. You can use a lot before worrying about it being too much. I went a little light in this version of the soup, and next time I would add more so it would have less of a mid-Eastern flavor and more of a Mexican flavor.
Use very sparingly, especially if you’ve never used it before. A little goes a long way. I love spicy, but I only use a pinch of this – it will be enough.
Fresh Cilantro – Reserve some for garnish
You either love cilantro or you hate it. My friend Nick thinks it tastes like soap. I can’t get enough of it. I use a lot of cilantro when I use it because I think it’s one of the best herbs on the planet. Before you buy it, maybe break a little leaf off and taste it to make sure it’s for you (I will never ever condone tasting in the supermarket again, but one little leaf should be fine from a bunch of over-priced cilantro). I probably used about half a bunch in this recipe.
Fresh Lime Juice
Half of a fresh lime should be sufficient, I wish I had used a little more. My lime was kind of dry and on it’s way out though and I wanted some extra to squeeze over before serving. The other reason you’ll want lime in this dish is because the citric acid will actually help prevent the avocado from browning too badly. It will brown eventually, but this will hold it off so you can serve pretty green soup to your guests and not something slimy and brown.
You’ll need to add some liquid to the blender to get everything moving. The consistency is entirely up to you. You can leave it thick if you want to use it as a dip or spread or you can really thin it out for the soup version. I wish I’d thinned mine out a little more so it felt a little more like eating soup rather than spooning delicious dip into my mouth. But really, I was fine with it. Start with a little bit and keep adding and tasting until the consistency is right for you.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Put avocados and cucumbers in the blender with some cold water. Liquefy.
- Add the rest of your ingredients. Liquefy.
- Taste and adjust seasoning and consistency accordingly.
- Chill for at least one hour. *IMPORTANT* You can store it in the blender pitcher or another air tight container. But put a layer of plastic wrap over the top to prevent the top layer from being exposed to air and browning. It’s not terrible if this happens. You can mix it in and it will be OK – it won’t ruin the flavor or the color. But if you do this it will keep better.
- Spoon into bowls, garnish, and serve.