Chill! (The Soup!)
Here’s a salute to myMEGusta readers in the Pacific Northwest and in France, all enduring a crazy heat waves right now, and to cold soups!
It ain’t just vichysoisse, my friends! (And, that’s pronounced “vee-shee-swahz”, by the way). While that cold leek and potato puree is a perfect summer meal or appetizer, there are so many more ways to enjoy these treats on steamy days.
Recently at a farm market, we were deciding what kind of local cherries to purchase: Bright red and sweet? The Rainiers, yellow with a blush of color? Shiny little tart ones? A bystander jumped into the conversation explaining her cold cherry soup: pit the cherries, simmer a few minutes with some sugar, cool and add cream (and did that ever sound delicious!). Thinking of the calories, myMEGusta opted for the Rainiers, a real seasonal treat, and not guilt-inducing.
In winter (hot) or summer (chilled), faux Crème Du Barry is an easy, healthy favorite. We say “faux” because there’s no cream in it, the soup being made by chopping up a cauliflower, simmering in chicken stock until soft, pureeing, then adding a little 2% milk at the end. Purists out there will (correctly) counter that the soup “needs” cream, and fancy Michelin star restaurants will sieve it for a perfectly smooth texture. Those steps are just not necessary (assuming that the inspector is not coming to your house any time soon).
And, what to do with all those cucumbers exploding in the garden? The thought of cold cucumber soup brings myMEGusta to an outdoor café on Goetheplatz in Vienna, perfect for a hot day in a beautiful city. Recipes abound on the internet for purees made with raw cucumbers or cooked (myMEGusta’s recommendation). Try one of the cooked versions (pick an uncomplicated recipe), chill it down and taste. If you like it, blanch and freeze those cucumbers to pluck out of the freezer and make into a soup once the season is over.
Fresh pea puree soup is a fabulous way to celebrate their very short season. But, try it with frozen peas, picked and processed at their sweet peak, and you’ll get almost as good a result at any time of the year, although finding the fresh mint accent will be harder in December.
Thoughts of December bring borscht to mind, but it is also excellent cold right now.
Then there’s the Spanish treat, Gazpacho, the delicious puree of dead ripe tomatoes and other summery flavors. Long time myMEGusta followers may remember “What’s the Difference Between Hot Gazpacho and Tomato Soup?” from August 2012 http://wp.me/p1VQOz-9f .
If you think about it, some of those “smoothies” coming out of the ubiquitous Vitamixes are not unlike cold soups, although calling it that is probably more decadent than some dieters want to admit to.