New Jersey Jewish News
Soups on for a savory summer spread
A chilled soup adds a spark to a meal as an appetizer or dessert. Savory or sweet, chilled soups highlighting the freshest produce make frequent appearances on my June-August menus.
Making chilled soups also allows the cook to enjoy the summer weather. Most chilled soups require only minimal preparation and rarely any stovetop cooking. The real beauty, though, is that they take advantage of only the freshest ingredients. If its not in season, its not in the soup.
Youre probably already familiar with some chilled soups: the Spanish gazpacho, that refreshingly crisp vegetable soup of tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and cucumbers, blended with olive oil and lemon, and French vichyssoise, a creamy bisque of potatoes, leeks, and herbs. Maybe your favorite French soup is a tangy potage of wild sorrel, known to many of us with an Eastern European culinary tradition as schav, that blend of spinach-like sorrel leaves, cream, lemon, and herbs. Borscht, originally from Russia and Poland, is another traditional cold favorite, with rich ruby-red beets blended with vegetables and swirled with sour cream.
Before you go into the kitchen, you should spend a little time checking out possible ingredient combinations. Ask yourself what foods work well with others herbs and berries, melons and honey, vegetables and vinegars. Mix and match on your own taste buds to look for the right balance on your palate. Strawberries and blueberries work great with balsamic vinegar and sage. Tomatoes go with garlic, peaches with cream, bananas with honey.
When a fruit soup is to be served dictates how you structure your ingredients. With minimal sweetener just the natural fruit flavor the fruit soup course works well as a starter to your meal. However, boosting the sweetness with a light brown sugar directs the serving of the soup toward the end of the meal. And keep in mind that sugar isnt the only sweetener that can be used. Honey adds an intriguing smooth and buttery hint to many dishes, without being overbearingly sweet. As a rule, test the fruits to be used before adding any sweetener. Depending on the height of their season, chances are youll hardly need any added sweetener at all!
Varying the broth to be used as a base for your soups can also add range and creativity to your meal. Adding champagne or sparkling wine with just a touch of ginger results in an exotic flavor. Rice wine or balsamic vinegar will bring flare to many fruit or vegetable soups. Vary texture as well: These soups can be chunky as chowder or with the flick of the food processors button a silky smooth bisque.
Dont limit soup to the light course at the start of a meal. Get to the center and transform it into your main meal. The classic PLT, for example pastrami, lettuce, and tomato. Puree garden-fresh, end-of-summer tomatoes with fresh basil for the base of the soup. Stir in finely shredded crisp lettuce, top with crisp-fried pastrami cracklings, and add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar. Your guests wont miss the bread with this deconstructed sandwich, especially when youve tossed a handful of aioli-dipped croutons to the center of the bowl.
Another main meal option is to fill a shallow bowl with gazpacho and top with sliced grilled chicken breast or oven roasted sea bass.
Sweet soups yield an added bonus: Drizzle any leftovers over ice cream, pie, or fruit salad. Frozen cubes of fruit soup can be dropped into a bubbly glass of ginger ale or seltzer for a refreshing cocktail.
Im sure youll enjoy preparing this recipe throughout the summer.
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