Cool Comfort

Turn the temperature down and your taste buds on — with these easy-to-prepare cold summer soups.



“Cold soups were always the thing that chefs put on the menu because they thought they were good. But the general public looked at them like, ‘Eew — they’re supposed to be hot,’ ” says David Kamen, chef/instructor at Hyde Park’s Culinary Institute of America. Cold soups have long been a warm-weather mainstay in many Mediterranean regions, Kamen says. “But now, they’re becoming increasingly popular over here. At [the CIA’s] St. Andrew’s Café, we have a fresh pea soup on the menu that can be served hot or cold. Recently, more guests are ordering it cold.”

Vichyssoise and gazpacho are probably the two best-known cold soups, the chef adds. “Gazpacho — well, that’s the quintessential summer soup: cold and refreshing.” It’s also an ideal cold soup for a novice cook to try. “There are lots of different variations. But generally, it’s very simple. It’s a put-everything-in-the-blender-and-purée-the-heck-out-of-it soup,” he says. “Then, if you decide you enjoy this cold, savory kind of soup, you can start branching out into whatever you like. This is a great time of year in the Hudson Valley, because the farmers markets are bursting with nice produce. You can make a cold soup out of almost anything. Beans will be popping up, you can even use baby greens.

There is nothing wrong with a chilled purée of lettuce soup. Certainly cucumbers are coming out, berries are out. You can make a savory cherry or strawberry soup. You can even make a sweet strawberry soup and serve it with a little miniature cheesecake for dessert.”

These five recipes, taken from The Culinary Institute of America: Vegetables (Lehbar-Friedman, 2007) will get you started on your own summer soup adventure.

Chilled Infusion of Fresh Vegetables with Fava Beans

Serves 8

3 ½ cups sliced leeks, white and light-green parts
1 cup sliced celeriac
½ cup minced shallots
1 ¼ cups minced parsley
2 Tbsp sliced chives
1 tsp minced garlic
1 thyme sprig
½ bay leaf
Salt and pepper as needed
8 cups water, or as needed
3 cups quartered ripe tomatoes
¼ cup sliced baby carrots
¼ cup small green peas, fresh or frozen
¼ cup shelled and peeled fava beans
¼ cup asparagus tips
¼ cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomato
8 chervil or flat-leaf parsley leaves, optional

To make the vegetable infusion:

1. Combine leeks, celeriac, shallots, parsley, chives, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper with 6 cups of the water in a soup pot.

2. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.

3. Add a little water to bring it back to its original level, return briefly to a boil, remove from heat, and cool.

4. Strain through fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Chill thoroughly.

To make tomato broth:

1. Combine quartered tomatoes with 1 ½ cups of remaining water.

2. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Chill thoroughly.

Recipe:

1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan.

2. Add carrots, cover, and pan-steam until tender.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer carrots to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well and transfer to bowl. Repeat process with peas, fava beans, and asparagus tips, cooking each vegetable separately until tender.

4. Add diced tomato to cooked vegetables and toss to combine. Chill thoroughly.

5. Mix tomato broth and vegetable infusion. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in chilled bowls, garnished with vegetables and chervil leaves, if using.

Cold Carrot Bisque

Serves 8

Try garnishing this soup with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of sliced chives

2 tsp butter
1⁄3 cup minced onions
3 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp minced ginger root, or to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
5 ½ cups thinly sliced carrots
5 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp white wine
½ tsp ground cardamom
2 cups orange juice
½ cup heavy cream, cold
1 ½ to 2 cups fresh carrot juice
salt and pepper as needed

1. Melt butter in a soup pot. Add onions, shallots, ginger, and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add carrots, broth, wine, cardamom, and orange juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Purée the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Cover and chill thoroughly. 4. Just before serving, stir in the cream. Thin soup with carrot juice to a barely thick consistency. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in chilled bowls.

Kh’yaaf B’lubban (Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup)

Serves 6 to 8

2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp chopped mint
4 cups plain yogurt
1 cup whole milk
4 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
salt and pepper as needed

1. Mix garlic with mint in a small bowl.

2. Beat yogurt and milk together with wire whisk or hand-held blender on medium speed until smooth. Fold in mint and garlic with a rubber spatula.

3. Combine cucumbers with yogurt mixture and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.

4. After chilling, check seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve in chilled bowls.

Chilled Cream of Avocado Soup

Serves 4 to 6

2 large ripe avocados
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth or water
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp ground coriander
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup plain yogurt or heavy cream
Salt and pepper as needed
2 ripe plum tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and diced), optional
2 corn tortillas, cut into strips and fried, optional

1. Cut each avocado in half from top to bottom, following contour of the pit in the center. Remove pit and scoop out the avocado flesh.

2. Purée the flesh in a food processor or blender with 4 cups of broth or water, chili powder, coriander, and lime juice until very smooth. If soup is too thick, add more broth or water to correct the consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill thoroughly.

3. Just before serving, blend in yogurt or cream. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in chilled bowls, garnished with tomato and tortilla strips, if using.

Chilled Caraway Squash Bisque

Serves 8

Small squash are the best choice for this soup because they have small seeds. Regardless of the size, select squash that are firm, bright, and free of spots or blemishes.

¼ cup unsalted butter
1 3⁄4 cups minced onions
½ cup minced celery
1⁄3 cup minced carrots
1 cup minced leeks (white part only)
6 cups vegetable broth or water
4 cups diced yellow squash
1 cup peeled, sliced potatoes
Sachet: 1 tsp caraway seeds, 1 garlic clove, 1 sprig thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme (enclosed in a large tea ball or tied up in a cheesecloth pouch), 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper as needed
1 tsp lightly toasted caraway seeds

1. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and leeks. Stir to coat evenly with butter. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add broth, squash, potatoes, and sachet. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Remove and discard the sachet. Strain soup through a sieve, reserving liquid. Purée the solids and return to soup pot. Add enough of reserved liquid to achieve a soup consistency. Blend well and return to a simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and chill thoroughly.

4. Add heavy cream and blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in chilled bowls garnished with toasted caraway seeds.


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