Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Spicy Cold Tomatillo Soup

If there's one thing in my garden that's overproducing other than zucchini, it's tomatillos. Despite the name, tomatillos are a member of the nightshade family, related closely to ground cherries, not tomatoes. Even in the foodie culture of Madison, I'm surprised at the number of people who don't know this delicious fruit by name, though almost everyone is familiar with the wonderful flavor of salsa verde.

While addressing the zucchini crop can feel like a bit of a burden at times, I'll never complain about having too many tomatillos. From just a couple of plants I've gotten several pounds of fruit (and they're still producing), which I've turned into fresh salsa, multiple roasted salsas, and even jam. With my freezer and refrigerator well-stocked with these delicious tomatillo sauces, I needed to expand my culinary endeavors to use my garden bounty.

When I need to use up an abundance of ingredients, my first thought is always soup. This soup is a nice balance of decadence and lightness, the rich avocado and yogurt offset by fresh cucumber, onion, and cilantro, with roasted tomatillos beautifully bridging these extremes. I find that one unseeded serrano brings a nice level of heat, but for those less enthusiastic about spicy food I'd recommend removing the ribs and seeds and/or only using part of the pepper. This recipe makes enough for two main courses or four side dishes and can easily be scaled up, provided you have a large enough food processor or blender. A perfect cold soup for the waning warm days, this fresh and filling bowl of flavor satisfies with the flavors of summer, but teases the taste buds for the hearty cold weather soups and stews soon to come.

Spicy Cold Tomatillo Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes about 1 quart

1 pound tomatillos, hulled and washed
3 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and ribs removed for less heat
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1/4 cup roughly chopped onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime (or lemon) juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into small pieces
1/2 to 1 cup water

1. Heat broiler. Place tomatillos, garlic, and serrano chile in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tomatillos are soft and browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Turn all items; continue cooking until other side is soft and browned, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.

2. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let cool completely. Peel garlic; place cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add tomatillos, serrano, and any accumulated juices along with cucumber, onion, cilantro, stock, lime juice, salt, yogurt, and avocado; blend until mixture is smooth. Add water, a few tablespoons at a time, blending after each addition, until soup reaches desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt, if needed.

3. Transfer to a large bowl or plastic storage container; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

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