Sunday, July 11, 2010

Soup in the summer

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.

1 comment:

  1. Soups are wonderful! If you want to make a lobster or seafood bisque that people will think you spent hours doing it, well look no further! This is a variation of the NY Times cookbook recipe and is a killer for the base of any cream or chilled.
    1 1/2 cup water
    4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
    2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped (I like vidalia onions because they are sweeter.)
    1 small bay leaf
    Place all of these ingredients in a pot and cook until the potatoes are soft and tender. Remove bay leaf. Place in a blender and purée. Be careful and do half of content at a time because hot ingredients really expand in a blender. Put purée back into pot. Add:
    1/3 cup warm milk (less if using skim or low fat milk) under very low heat. Use judgment to determine texture and creaminess. Add 3 tablespoon cognac, 1/4 dry white wine, salt and white paper to taste. A dash or red food coloring to achieve a pink appearance. Remove from heat. Add 1 generous cup of cooked cut lobster pieces or your favorite cooked shell fish (combination of scallops, crab meat, etc).
    Serve with or without sprinkles of parsley/chives, sour cream/Greek yoghurt dollop and enjoy with your favorite bread and wine...or whatever beverage you enjoy!

    Happy summer!