60th Street in Manhattan closes from Lexington over to Fifth Avenue every year on Bastille Day. In all honesty, it’s a typical hot, crowded street fair but with some French twists including many stalls selling macaroons and crepes; a stall with French books, previously-ordered picnic lunches; information on the Alliance Français housed on 60th, and French magazines. I overheard a young woman on her phone who either missed history class or Les Mis (book, Broadway, movie) telling someone “It’s some kind of French day here.” So much for “to the barricades.”
The Alliance is a great place that shows French films, displays art; offers excellent French language classes and has children’s programs including a preschool that combines French and American teaching methods. There is also a wonderful library, said to be the leading French library in the U.S.
Much as I love Paris, it wouldn’t be wonderful in today’s heat which is in the nineties. Lately it’s been raining suddenly and violently all over the Northeast as it does in the tropics; now apparently we’re in for a major heat wave. The idea of cooking becomes less appealing as the temperature soars so cold soup made quickly in a blender is in order.
This recipe serves eight generously but you can easily do the math and cut down the amount. It’s deliciously tangy and a beautiful color. The last time I served it, I used mugs; if you have glass cups or bowls, they would show off your efforts well.
Cold Avocado Soup
1 seedless cucumber, chopped
2 medium avocados, peeled and pitted
2 shallots, chopped
4 tablespoon(s) plain yogurt
4 tablespoon(s) fresh mint (or less)
More fresh mint to garnish
8 teaspoon(s) fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt (probably not enough— start with one and add after tasting)
1/2 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
2 radishes, chopped
Place the cucumber, avocado, shallot, yogurt, 2 tablespoons mint, lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin, and 1 cup cold water in a blender, and process until smooth.
Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve garnished with the chopped radishes and remaining mint leaves. (Note: the amounts of some ingredients are left vague so you can adjust to your taste. I upped the yogurt in the soup and added a dollop under the chopped radishes on top, skipping the additional mint.)