Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Post: Chilled Summer Soups

Dona Bumgarner chimes in again this month while I'm out roaming in China to share some of her favorite cold soup recipes. She'd mentioned them first during an email exchange a few months ago when Tokyo temperatures were already beginning to rise. Mouth-watering and brow sweating, I requested a post. And here it is!

At the tail end of summer, when hot days fade into steamy evenings, the last thing I want to be doing is standing over a stove making dinner.

Here are three chilled soups that are quick to assemble, filling and tasty. Only one requires a stove but you could cook it in the cool of the morning and then just pull it, ready-made, out of the fridge for dinner.

Chilled Avgolemeno Soup looking scrumptious!

Chilled Avgolemeno Soup
Serves 6

In our house this soup is affectionately known as "avocado lemonade" soup, though it contains no avocado.  It is a spin on a traditional Greek soup, thick with eggy custard and tangy with lemon. It is my toddler's favorite meal - she will happily eat it for lunch and dinner several days running. You can serve it hot or cold - this is the cold version.  When making it this way, use a low-fat chicken stock or skim the stock well before using.  I prefer the tang of Eureka lemons for this soup but you could use Meyer lemons for a mellower flavor.

Any kind of cooked chicken is fine for this. I like to make this a couple of days after I've roasted a chicken to use up the leftover meat. If you don't eat gluten, you can substitute cooked rice for the orzo. 

6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or torn into small pieces
3 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste

Bring stock to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed pan.  Add orzo and chicken pieces.  Simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until orzo is cooked but not mushy.  Turn off heat and let cool 2-3 minutes.

While orzo is cooking, lightly beat together eggs and lemon juice in a medium bowl.  Once the orzo is cooked, warm the egg mixture by slowly adding 2 ladles of stock to the bowl, whisking continuously.  Slowly pour warmed egg mixture into the soup pot, stirring constantly until completely combined.  The soup will thicken further as it cools. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chill the soup in the refrigerator for an hour or more.  This soup is best served just cool, not extremely cold.

Hello, Gazpacho!!
Chilled Avocado-Tomato Soup (Gazpacho a la Guadlajara)
Serves 4

This soup is a chunky twist on the classic gazpacho and the avocado adds a luxurious richness.  It is great on a hot day because nothing is cooked so it won't heat up a hot kitchen any extra!

You can make this soup ahead and chill it assembled, which allows the flavors to combine nicely.  Or if you chill the tomato juice, you can make and serve it immediately.

This version is fairly mild.  To increase the kick, use Spicy V-8 juice in place of the plain tomato juice, add a half can of chopped Ortega or Hatch chiles or flavor to taste with a chili sauce of your choice.

To cube the avocados, cut the fruit in half and remove the pit.  While the still in the peel, run a knife through the soft flesh in rows the long way and then across the other direction.  Scoop out the sliced flesh from the peel with a spoon.

Make this soup a complete meal by adding a can of cooked black beans or serve it as a side to cooked chicken or steak.

2 cups cooked corn kernels
4 cups tomato juice
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into tiny cubes
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into tiny cubes
4 tablespoons lime or lemon juice (about two limes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
salt to taste

Mix together all ingredients gently until well combined.  Chill for one to two hours or until very cold. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping.

Chilled almond soup - Oh, yes.

Chilled Almond Soup
Serves 4

I was first introduced to almond soup several years ago at a local restaurant that changes its menu with the seasons.  It was an early fall offering, served warm with a drizzle of deep green olive oil.  It had such a surprisingly light texture and flavor that I was hooked at once.

This chilled version is adapted from the beautiful book A Year In My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, formerly of the Petersham Nursery Cafe outside of London. I've included the British measurements from the original recipe as well as American equivalents.  

This recipe requires a food processor to chop the nuts and emulsify the water and oil.  A strong immersion blender may work though I haven't tried it. 

If you can't find blanched whole or slivered almonds, you can skin raw almonds by boiling them very briefly and then submerging them in ice water.  Rub off the loosened skins with a damp towel.

The original recipe suggests garnishing the soup with a slice of fresh fig and either olive oil or rose hip syrup.  I prefer a drizzle of tangy pomegranate molasses.

150g day-old bread (about 2/3 cups)
225g blanched almonds (8oz or 2 cups)
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
220ml olive oil (just under 1 cup)
salt & pepper
375ml ice water (about 1 1/2 cups)
ripe fig and pomegranate molasses to garnish

Remove crusts from bread and cube. Soak in cool water in a bold for 2-3 minutes then squeeze excess water out with your hands.

Put garlic, almonds, bread, sherry vinegar and olive oil in a food processor and blend until very smooth.  While the processor is running, slowly add the ice water until the soup is the thickness of double cream (or thin yogurt, if you aren't familiar with double cream). The correct consistency is important; if it is too thick the soup will taste oily, but too thin will be bland.  Cover and chill an hour or more before serving.

Garnish each bowl of soup with a slice of fig and a drizzle of molasses.

Doña Bumgarner is a writer, mom, and gardener.  She is currently loving the bustle of the summer market and sunny days in the garden with her toddler. You can find her musings on motherhood in midlife, among other things, on her blog, Aubergine.


Unknown said...

Excellent job. I'm usually afraid of chilled soups but these really sound amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Don't be shy about sharing these. They're scrumptious! Dona knows what she's about here.