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Israel’s Amazing Variety of Foods: Hot Avocado Soup

August 8, 2005


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As opposed to French, Italian, or Chinese cuisine, Israeli cooking cannot be strictly defined by specific condiments, flavors, or dishes. While Israel’s geographic location has provided the country’s foods with a decidedly Middle Eastern orientation, socially, Israel is a state whose population has originated from east and west, north and south, meeting here in the same melting pot. And while it is a nation only 57 years old, it boasts a 2,000-year-old culinary credo, which began when the Jews were dispersed to the four corners of the earth. Once the nation was finally reunited, several international ingredients came together under one lid, serving up the most memorable meals, many of which are based on recipe variations.

Whereas outdoor dining was once synonymous with catching a quick falafel and a can of soda, not anymore: Hailing falafel as Israel’s national dish is a thing of the past. Certainly, the population still enjoys a variety of “street foods” gulped on the run. However, today’s urbane Israelis revel in the experience of feasting in restaurants and especially love those with outdoor seating, where they can enjoy their food in the fabulous clear weather known to Israel for much of the year. Not only do you have many new Israeli recipes that are a blend of many nations, but also you can find a matching restaurant for every major country the Jews immigrated from.

This is not to say that true Israeli cuisine is found only in restaurants. Authentic Israeli cooking boils, simmers, and bakes at home as well. While Israelis from all over the world preserve their original cooking traditions, daily, friendly exchanges with next-door neighbors make it easy to incorporate and adapt recipes of other civilizations into one’s own daily menu. The end result? Israelis of European descent are cooking fish with tehina (paste of sesame seeds) and slicing, frying, and seasoning eggplant into savory salad servings, while their Middle Eastern counterparts are making schnitzel, goulash, and cauliflower kugel.

Israelis also revere the Bible and its edicts. Aside from adhering to the kashrut (kosher) laws in cooking and eating, they have literally obeyed the command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” This decree prompted kibbutz (collective settlement) farmers to till a stubbornly arid land tenaciously until it finally bore the fruit of their labor—an endless supply of fresh fruits and vegetables plus a cornucopia of exotic variations, which are exported the world over.

Israelis are adept at creating numerous avocado recipes. They’ve discovered that the fruit is so versatile it can even be liquefied. This blend of avocado, wine and chicken broth is an original Israeli creation developed by the country’s younger chefs, and makes for an interesting and exotic soup.

Hot Avocado Soup

4 cups chicken broth
(can be made from a powdered or bouillon mix)
2 large ripe avocados
1 cup white wine
3 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and white
pepper to taste
Chives and croutons for garnish

Prepare the chicken soup.
Halve the avocados
and scoop out the flesh.
Blend hot chicken soup
and avocados in a food
processor until smooth.

Add remaining ingredients and gently heat over a low flame. Do not boil, as avocado becomes bitter when overheated. Serve immediately, garnished with croutons and chives. Yields 3–4 servings.

(Recipe thanks to The Melting Pot Cookbook, published by Palphot in Israel.)

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