Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season. So whatever the temperature, it’s time to transition the kitchen, to replace hearty dishes like split pea soup and beef Bourguignon with main dish salads and grilled meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.
Chilled soups are also an antidote to summer’s heat and humidity. Some are vegetable based, others primarily fruit-based. But in virtually every instance, they’re seasonal to the max.
The following soups are three of my all-time favorites.
1 cup peeled tomato, cut in chunks (about 2 medium)
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup diced celery (optional)
1 cup diced cucumber
One-quarter cup sliced green onion
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
1 teaspoon snipped chives, fresh or frozen
1 small clove garlic, minced
One-quarter cup wine vinegar
One-quarter cup salad or olive oil (I often decrease- or delete- the oil.)
1 teaspoon salt
One-eighth teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
2 cups tomato juice
Combine tomato, green pepper, celery, cucumber, onion, parsley, chives, and garlic in a wooden bowl or food processor. Pulse, or chop, until the vegetables are the desired size. (I like my gazpacho chunky, as opposed to a puree.)
Minus the croutons, combine the vegetables with the remaining ingredients in a suitably sized container.
Chill for several hours or overnight.
Serve in mugs or bowls. Pass croutons separately for topping.
Note: This recipe is adapted from “Cooking with Love” (Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press 1965) by Florence Kerr Hirschfeld. The book was written prior to the introduction of food processors, so the original directions call for chopping the vegetables-by hand- in a wooden chopping bowl. Tomatoes are easy to peel. Simply drop the whole tomato into a kettle of boiling water. Within a minute or two, the skin will start to separate from the tomato. Using a large serrated spoon, take the tomatoes out of the water, and let them cool. Remove the peel, and proceed with the recipe.
Cold Mango-Orange Soup
4 large mangoes, peeled and roughly diced
1 quart orange juice
1 quart plain unsweetened yogurt (not Greek)
One-half cup honey
3 tablespoons sugar (or more, if desired)
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon dried cardamom
In a blender, puree mangoes, orange juice and yogurt until smooth. Add honey, sugar, coriander and cardamom, and pulse in blender. Chill two hours or until ready to serve.
Note: This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Chicago-based chef Michael Tsonton.
Cold Beet Borscht
5-6 beets, cut into thin strips (use a hand grater or food processor)
Juice of two lemons
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 quarts water
Boil the water.
Add the beets and cook for ten minutes.
Skim the residue and discard.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for 30 minutes.
Chill before serving.
Place a dollop of sour cream in each bowl before adding the soup.
Note: I’ve had this recipe for so long that its source is nowhere to be found.
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