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posted: 7/25/2012 6:00 AM

Chilled avocado soup shows its versatility

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  • Tomatillos give a citrusy tang to this quick and easy chilled soup.

      Tomatillos give a citrusy tang to this quick and easy chilled soup.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Peel away the papery husk before using tomatillos.

    Peel away the papery husk before using tomatillos.


I don't know if you've ever made something you liked so much, you started eating it right out of the mixing bowl, even before you finished preparing it.

That's what happened when I made this tomatillo avocado salad dressing. Yes, I know, this is a soup column. However, I think this dressing is so scrumptious, not to mention healthy, that it makes a refreshing chilled summer soup.

In other words, it never made the short journey from the food processor bowl to the salad greens!

The secret is the tomatillos. A distant relative of the tomato and often referred to as tomate verde or green tomato, they are a staple of Mexican cuisine. I had never used them before because the paper-like husks intimidated me for some reason.

However, a class at Flavour Cooking School in Forest Park showed me peeling a tomatillo couldn't be easier. Simply remove and discard the papery layer and chop the fruit into quarters before adding it to the food processor. Tomatillos are slightly sticky to the touch and the flavor is sort of lemony, herbal and tangy all at the same time. Paired with the avocados, jalapeņo, cilantro and lime juice, the result a marvelous mashup of gazpacho and guacamole.

Not that it needs embellishment, but you could garnish the soup with a little crumbled queso fresco, a firm-textured white cheese also used in Mexican recipes, and/or tortilla chips.

Of course, you can always use this recipe as it was intended -- as a salad dressing. With no added oil other than what comes naturally from the avocado, this is off-the-charts in terms of healthy. Any kind of lettuce and vegetable combination will work. The salad we made in class included frisee, baby arugula, cherry tomatoes and roasted red pepper strips.

So what'll it be? Soup or salad? It's just a matter of how much willpower you have.

• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at

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