With the exception of gazpacho, many Americans don't really think about soup as a summer option. Soups conjure up images of wool sweaters, scarves and cold, snowy days. What could be better on a winter day than a flavorful, hot liquid filled with chunks of vegetables or meat? Soup is the ultimate comfort food on those days when all we can think about is getting inside to a warm house.
But soups are great meal options during the summer. I can hear you thinking: Who wants to eat hot soup during the summer? I just returned from East Asia, where slurping down a big bowl of steaming hot soup is very common. I ate hot soup every day that I was in Malaysia. I even ate it on the plane! Yep, Korean Air serves hot miso soup as part of the meal service. For East Asia, hot soups are just the right thing to eat during the hot weather season. (It's the same idea in many developing countries, such as Jamaica, where hot tea on a daily basis is common, despite the tropical climate.)
Don't worry -- I'm not going to post a hot soup recipe. I just wanted to discuss what different cultures believe about the subject. I have a wonderful cold soup recipe to share. I served sparkling berry soup as a first course during a hot summer day for several friends whom I had invited over for dinner. It was refreshing and quite good.
I can not stress enough how crucial it is to use only freshly squeezed juices. Sure it's more time-consuming, but the difference in taste between fresh and bottled juice is noticeable. As you remember if you read my earlier blog on lemons, I love their taste. I added a little more than the recipe's indicated 1/4 cup. It's a matter of personal taste, I suppose. I used Asti Spumante, which worked fine. Given the ingredients in the soup, I thought that ice cream would be too much. Instead, I used a frozen vanilla yogurt. It was light and also provided a contrast in color. I was so pressed getting dinner ready, that I didn't even bother trying to track down the flowers for the garnish. I used fresh mint, which worked quite nicely.
Sparkling Berry Soup
6 cups stemmed ripe berries such as strawberries, raspberries or blackberries (one kind or an assortment)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 cups Asti Spumante, Champagne, or other sparkling wine
Berry sorbet, frozen vanilla yogurt or rich vanilla ice cream
whole fresh berries for garmish
Pesticide-free non-toxic flowers such as borage, forget-me-nots, violas or violets for garnish (optional)
Serves 6 as a soup course or dessert.