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Chefs’ Corner: Chilled California Avocado Soup from Biga on the Banks

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Chilled California Avocado Soup with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo

The lure of smooth avocado purée mixed with the lively crunch of shrimp and pico de gallo is the foundation of this recipe, which comes from Martin Stembera, chef de cuisine at Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St. But the secret doesn’t stop there. Flavors of orange, lime and honey as well as garlic and shallots all combine to make a rich treat that is cool and refreshing on a hot Texas day.

Chilled California Avocado Soup with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo

2 teaspoons canola oil
4 medium shallots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup plus 2 ounces fresh orange juice, divided use
16 ounces chicken stock (2 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 to 3 ripe California avocados
Salt, to taste
Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo, for garnish (recipe follows)

Orange Shrimp Pico de Gallo:
4-6 shrimp
1 teaspoon canola oil
Pinch of chopped garlic
Pinch of shallot
Orange juice
Diced onion, to taste
Diced serrano or jalapeño, to taste
Diced and seeded tomato, to taste
Chopped cilantro, to taste (optional)
Orange oil (optional)

For the soup: In soup pot, turn heat on medium low to warm up oil. Then, add shallots with garlic and let them cook slowly until they have released some liquid and are transparent. Add 1/4 cup orange juice and reduce by half. Then add chicken stock and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Chill this mixture and then blend it until smooth.

Add lime juice, honey and 2 avocados and blend until smooth. If soup is too runny add remaining avocado; if it’s too thick add additional orange juice. Season with salt to taste.

Serve chilled with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo.

For the pico: Cut 4-6 large cleaned shrimp into bite size pieces and sauté in a little oil with shallot and garlic until shrimp turn pink.

Remove shrimp from pan and put orange juice in the pan, reducing it until it becomes thick.

Add shrimp back to pan, toss with the orange juice reduction and chill. After shrimp mixture is chilled, add 4-6 tablespoons of your favorite pico de gallo recipe or a mixture of chopped onion, serrano, tomato and cilantro, if using. Add a few drops of pure orange oil for an extra orange punch, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Martin Stembera of Biga on the Banks

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