andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | july 2018
"Of all the items on the menu, soup is that which extracts the most delicate perfection and the strictest attention." - Auguste Escoffier
In soup, as in life, sometimes the biggest challenge we can face is balance. Balance in our professional and personal lives – balance in our flavors on the plate or in the bowl. In the kitchen, as it is in your daily routine, the effort you put in is directly related to what ends up on the plate.
If there is one thing I could not imagine giving up in my diet it would be soup. The quintessential feel-good food that can elicit more emotion than any other type of cuisine I know. Comforting the ill, warding off the chill, a hearty meal, or as a starter that creates anticipation for great entrees that soon follow.
Nothing, however, can disappoint the palate more than a poorly created, neglected, or worst of all, burned soup. I have often said, you can tell everything you need to know about a restaurant in the way they keep their restrooms and the way they make their soup. Think about it; both are all about effort and attention to detail. Neglect in either is a recipe for disaster.
Now that we're approaching the dog days of summer, the thrill might be found with a chill – as is chilled soup. Typically, gazpacho takes top prize for most recognized chilled soup, but in its primitive form, I've always likened it to eating thinned out salsa with a spoon. With a little creativity and some "today" flavors, gazpacho gets a new lease on life and may be a hit at your next backyard barbecue.
In order for the perfect soup to be made, you must start with quality ingredients. You cannot have a balanced soup with a mélange of sub-par ingredients; the soup is the engine. The body may be a Cadillac, but if you've got a Yugo motor under the hood it's nothing more than a good-looking Yugo. A great start with quality ingredients will help you when you need to utilize leftovers because the foundation is solid enough to build upon. Create your masterpiece, just pay attention and start with the best.
Avocado is the star of this chilled soup, with white grape juice as the stock. Make sure you have all ingredients prepped and ready to roll as it comes together quickly!
Avocado Gazpacho "Avozpacho"
In a large food processor or blender add:
3 whole, soft avocados, peeled and pit removed - rough chop
juice of 2 limes
3 cups white grape juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 sweet onion, peeled and diced
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro - chopped
Cover and begin to puree slowly (pulse to start) so you don't paint your walls green. As the mixture begins to puree to an almost smooth texture, you can adjust the consistency by adding more grape juice if you want it thinner, or add more avocado if you like it thicker. If you do add anything, adjust the seasonings to taste.
Add sliced almonds to a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add a few drizzles of olive oil and a bit of salt and shake the pan as the almonds turn golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel and let cool for several minutes.
Chill the "Avozpacho" in a large glass bowl over ice or in the coldest part of the fridge. When you're ready to serve, pour individual servings into chilled bowls then garnish with toasted almonds, chopped fresh cilantro and a drizzle of sour cream. Garnish the side of the bowl with a wedge of lime - Enjoy!
Chef Andy Mueller is a well-seasoned Chef with over 30 years in the restaurant business. He's been on Food Network with Guy Fieri, was Reggie White's personal chef during their Super Bowl run in 1996 and has been Executive Chef at Zimani's in the late '80s, the original Executive Chef at Black & Tan Grille the first four years of operation and owned restaurants in Door County including Glidden Lodge restaurant north of Sturgeon Bay and Hillside Restaurant in Ellison Bay. He currently owns the massively popular supper club 'Galley 57' in Allouez at 2222 Riverside Dr.