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Chilled Tomato Soup with Avocado Salsa

Chilled Tomato Soup with Avocado Salsa
This soup can also be served warm. Garnish with tiny croutons crisped in butter or with a bit of finely chopped fresh herbs. If you like, when serving the soup chilled, include an ice cube in each bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 5 large shallots, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 lb. (8 or 9 medium or 4 large) ripe,
      juicy tomatoes, cored and cut into big pieces
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup tomato juice, water or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the salsa:

  • 1 ripe, firm avocado
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Sour cream or crème fraîche for garnish

Directions:

In a wide heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, thyme, tomato juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Pass the soup through a food mill. If the taste and texture are a little thin, return the soup to very low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until thick and flavorful. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

To make the salsa, peel, pit and dice the avocado. In a medium bowl, toss the avocado with the shallot, lime juice, cilantro and olive oil. Season with salt.Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top each with a spoonful of salsa and a spoonful of sour cream. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma TASTE Magazine, "Red, Ripe and True," by Deborah Madison (Summer 2002).