July 10, 2005


To feed our hard-working souls I made a huge batch of cold shrimp soup. This is a gazpacho-like dish introduced to us by Martin, an ex-boyfriend of neighbor Gary. Martin (pronounced Mar-teen but I don't have a way to add an accent mark) is a Mexican heavy metal musician who is also a Thai food chef. To look at him, you instantly see the heavy metal part, what with his long hair, tatoos, and mostly black wardrobe. The chef talents we delightfully discovered bit by bit.

The original recipe calls for Clamato, a V-8 type juice that has a slight clam taste. I opted to substitute and here's why: Clamato is pretty expensive, ringing in at over five bucks for less than a gallon. But the primary reason was that the third ingredient listed on the label is high fructose corn syrup! The absolute worst form of sugar - unfortunately found in way too many products. So I moved on to V-8. V-8 was slightly cheaper for the same sized bottle since it was currently on sale. "Sugar" was listed as an ingredient but much further down the list. Then I went to Trader Joe's and inspected their Garden Patch vegetable juice. Not only is the most economical, at only $2.49 for a whole gallon, it doesn't contain any sugar! The label indicates all sorts of vegetable products and by products but no syrups, sugar, or "oses." Available in regular and low sodium, it was the obvious healthy choice of the three contenders. It also tastes very good.

So here is how I throw together the cold shrimp soup. First, there are no measured amounts of anything. I took a big pot and added ingredients until the pot looked full, looked inviting, looked like each ladle dip would pull up a good variety of ingredients. It's definitely a make as you go dish.

* 2 64 oz. bottles of Trader Joe's Garden Patch (1 regular, 1 low sodium)
* Ketchup. This is where you get your sugar. But I used only about 1/2 cup for the whole pot. I happened to use Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup.
* About 4 avacados, on the small side, diced.
* 3 tomatoes, diced. I removed most of the seeds and guts.
* 1 red onion, diced but not too small
* 1 hot pepper of your choice minced. I had a jalapeno that had ripened to red. I seeded and de-veined it.
* Fresh cilantro, chopped.
* Hot sauce of your choice.
* Coarse salt to taste.
* Fish sauce to taste. I added this for saltiness and for a slight fish flavor since I didn't use Clamato and I didn't cook my own shrimp.
* Shrimp. Like I said, I didn't cook my own. I was trying to save time and see if I could also save money. I definitely saved both and, frankly, Julie and I felt the soup was no worse for it. Maybe next time on a less busy day, I'll boil my own shrimp as I have in the past. Then I'll toss in some of the water for flavor.
* Lastly, I added corn this time. Next time, I'll add roasted corn! Even better.
It's best when it chills overnight.

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