I call this Bloody Mary Soup because it is a relatively spicy mixture, and a tablespoon of vodka, stirred in at the last moment, punches up the flavor.
An avocado, pureed with lemon and sour cream to a smooth, creamy texture, adds a final fillip of richness to the cold soup and counterbalances the spicing.
Actually, the soup is like a cross between gazpacho and a partially cooked tomato soup, since cooking is limited to parboiling the tomatoes so they can be peeled and pureed. It is a great way to use up any bargain-priced or home-grown fresh plum or round tomatoes and attractive enough to serve to guests.
The way to achieve the smoothest possible puree, whether vegetables are raw or cooked, is by mincing the mixture as much as possible, then processing continuously while pouring liquid into the machine. The pouring action helps food to become pureed.
Ready for Peeling
First processing solids (whether hot or cold), then adding liquid while the machine is running is a standard technique for soup. In this case, it is not necessary to allow the tomatoes to cool before processing--they simply must be cool enough to handle for peeling.
Large-capacity processors will quickly reduce an avocado to minced consistency, but it will be necessary to clean the container side frequently with a spatula. Avocados are available year-round, but they often need three to five days at room temperature to ripen to perfect consistency and their peak of flavor.
Preparation takes 25 minutes, processing 5 minutes, and cooking 5 minutes.
BLOODY MARY SOUP
4 pounds ripe Italian plum (or round) tomatoes
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 small onion, peeled, cubed
2 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vodka
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and rinsed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Place tomatoes into stockpot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and heat to boiling. Drain and cool, then peel, seed and cut tomatoes in half.
Insert metal blade in dry processor. Mince garlic by adding to machine with motor on. Add onion and process with 1-second pulses until minced. With motor on, pour 1 cup broth through food chute within 1 minute. Puree until very fine, about 30 seconds longer.
Add 1/2 tomatoes to processor and puree until fine. Empty container into mixing bowl. Add remaining tomatoes to machine. With motor on, pour remaining cup broth through food chute within 1 minute.
Add vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Process 20 seconds. Mix contents of container throughly into bowl with tomato mixture. Refrigerate. When soup is thoroughly chilled, about 4 hours, stir in vodka. Taste to adjust for seasonings.
At serving time, cut off 6 thin crescents of avocado, each about 1-inch long for garnish. Cut remaining avocado into 1-inch cubes. Add to container and process until minced. Add sour cream and lemon juice. Process until smooth.
Ladle soup into bowls. Spoon dollop of avocado cream into center of soup and place avocado crescent into cream. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings