Cucumber-Avocado Soup

No food-friendly home is without its strange culinary rituals, and mine is no exception. Just ask a recent house guest, who during her 3-day stay caught me in the kitchen before 7 am in wet hair and a bathrobe on two separate occasions, cooking not eggs and toast as the normal people do, but strawberry-chili jam and walnut chocolate chip cookies. I like making elaborate things early in the morning; I'm a total weirdo.

Take another odd ritual in chez NDP: when summer rolls around, I start awkwardly hoarding empty yogurt tubs, filling them as quickly as possible with all sorts of cold summer soups: white gazpacho and chilled corn soup and more. Why I can't use tupperware like the rest of earthlings, I don't know. All I know is that cold soup ladled from recycled yogurt tubs on a hot and humid summer day makes me grin big.

Here, then, is my first chilled soup of the summer, one that has already made its (very temporary) home in a yogurt tub. It's inspired by a soup my friend Beth made last weekend, which was creamy and smooth, yet seemed almost whipped, it was so light and airy. The key, of course, is to make it in a blender. Its ingredients are few -- cucumbers and avocado, yogurt and jalapeno, perhaps some chives -- but bowls of the stuff would be lovely garnished with any number of things. I've done yogurt and more chopped chives, and I'm particularly excited about topping my next bowl with some quartered cherry tomatoes.

Chilled soup provides such easy reprieve from the heat, I'll be making it regularly through August. Stay tuned for more recipes, and as always, feel free to share your own in the comments!

Cucumber Avocado Soup serves 4-6

2 avocados, preferably Hass, halved and roughly chopped 1 English (seedless) long cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced coarsely 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (with seeds), more to taste 1 cup yogurt (I used greek, but any will do) salt and pepper to taste 5-6 fresh chives, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a blender, starting with just half of the jalapeno and reserving 2-3 sprigs chives and 1/4 cup yogurt for garnish. Add 1/8 cup water to get the blending started, then blend on medium until completely smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, and more jalapeno to taste.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

To serve, fill bowls and garnish with yogurt, chives, chopped cherry tomatoes, or anything else that suits your fancy.