Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Heat is On! My Favorite Chilled Soups to Beat the Dog Days of Summer

Here we go again. In San Diego we got almost a week of coolish, breezy weather in August before getting slammed again with another heat wave. I don't know about you, but I'm very nervous about my next SDG&E bill.

When the temperatures climb there's just no turning on the stove in my house. So I turn to chilled soups filled with vegetables or fruit that are simple to prepare and don't make me sweat. I thought you might appreciate these, too. Especially as we say goodbye to some summer crops that will make way for the fall harvest.

Evie's Chunky Gazpacho: Of course, I had to start with tomatoes and my favorite chunky gazpacho. As many of my friends and readers know, this gazpacho is something my mom has made for years and I adopted as my own. It's a powerhouse of nutrients and the more nutrients, the better the flavor. This soup is packed with it. It starts with the tomatoes, but adds cucumbers, corn, onions, garlic, bell peppers, chilies, cilantro, and lime juice--and I'm just getting started! Make your own tortillas to accompany this!

Coconut Peach Gazpacho: My friend Jesus Gonzalez, formerly the chef at Rancho La Puerta, makes a dynamite Coconut Peach Gazpacho that's a blend of savory (onion, cucumber, chili) and sweet (peaches or other seasonal fruit, agave nectar, and apple). Add some acid from lime juice and a touch of mint and you've got another refreshing summer soup!

Cucumber and Radish Confetti Soup: Many years ago, when I lived in New York and suffered from the sweltering humidity that is particularly eviscerating in the Northeast, a friend of mine introduced me to cucumber bisque. This simple chilled soup made with hothouse cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, dill, and tomatoes became a staple for me. Then I decided to scratch the tomatoes and add radishes to get a bit of a bite. Loved it!

Grant Grill's Cucumber Soup: Several years ago I visited the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego to check out their rooftop garden. They were growing tomatoes and peppers, Persian cucumbers, fennel, and a host of magnificent fragrant herbs. There I sampled their rich and creamy (from a blend of yogurt and sour cream) Persian Cucumber Soup. Even with the potent flavors of chilis, cilantro, mint, dill, and garlic, those cukes burst through.

Chilled Honeydew Coconut Milk Soup: Chilled melons may be the most refreshing of summer eats. Combine the melon--and an uber sweet honeydew at that--with fresh ginger, coconut milk, lime juice, and a smidge of kaffir lime powder and you have a dish that will serve as virtual armor against the dastardly rays of the summer sun.

Chilled Melon Blueberry Soup: I actually just wrote about this in July, but the heat is on and I love this combination of melon with blueberries and potent herbs like tarragon and basil. Thanks to the yogurt, it has a welcome creaminess and tang.

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