Soup-er cool cooking

July 24, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

Yes, the weather is hot, hot, hot.


You shouldn't be.

It's July - "summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime."

What do you feel like eating? A hearty bowl of beef stew?

What do you feel like cooking? Roast pork and homemade bread?

Nah and Nah. Those are meals for winter - to be enjoyed when you want something to stick to your ribs and make you feel warm from the inside out.


Now it's summertime and the cooking is cool - or at least it can be.

Some things you don't even have to cook.

MaryAnn Oyler says she thinks of "smoothies" when she thinks of cool summertime food. Smoothies can be made any time of year, but summer is the time when fresh fruits are really fresh and really available. The nutritious beverages work for breakfast or snacks and are good on the go in a cup in the car, says Oyer, family and consumer science agent with Penn State Cooperative Extension, Franklin County.

Summer is the time when you can more easily take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables, meeting nutritionists' recommendation of five servings per day, says Washington County Health Department registered dietitian Lisa McCoy. A lot of people in our area do their own gardening, she says. Things taste better fresh from the garden, she says.

Grilling is a good summer option. Although you may be warm standing near your outdoor grill, you won't be heating up your kitchen. McCoy recommends marinating chicken while you're at work, popping it on the barbecue when you get home.

She also says there are ready-made options at the grocery store - prepared strips of roasted chicken, items from the salad bar.

Be cool. Think outside the box - or the conventional soup kettle.

Gazpacho, a tomato-ey soup of Spanish origin, has been on the menu for more than 20 years at the Yellow Brick Bank in Shepherdstown, W.Va., says Michael Luksa, executive chef.

People tend to eat a little differently in warm weather, he says. A Cuban-style pork entree popular in cool weather, doesn't go in summer. Meats are harder on the system, he says. Patrons order a lot more fish in warmer weather. They also "graze" with items from the appetizer menu. The smoked salmon is popular, he says.

Although the 4-year-old kitchen at the restaurant is well designed and doesn't get too hot despite its wood-burning stove, Luksa will be adding a couple of cold soups to the menu. Restaurant owner Kevin Connell has business interests in Hungary and says a lot of fruit soups are served there. He also brought a wonderful vanilla extract from Honduras.

Luksa created - with input from his entire kitchen staff - a chilled peach soup and will have a melon soup because those fruits are available fresh. Think about the difference between a January and a summer tomato, he says. "If it's in season, use it. If not, don't."

Peach Smoothie

Blend together one 8-ounce carton of low-fat peach yogurt with an 8 3/4-ounce can of peaches, drained.

Use half-pound of fresh peaches when available.

Add 6 to 8 ice cubes, one at a time, blending to form a slush.

Farfalle with Fresh Tomatoes, Brie and Basil

12 ounces Farfalle pasta


8 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped

8 ounces brie cheese with rind removed and cubed.

1 large clove minced garlic

3 ounces extra virgin olive oil

24 large basil leaves thinly sliced

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients, except pasta, in a bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta, strain and toss with sauce. Serve as a side dish with grilled fish or chicken brushed with a basil pesto.

Yield: six side dishes.

This dish is not on the Yellow Brick Bank menu, but one Michael Luksa makes at home without spending hours in the kitchen over a hot stove. The sauce blends nicely with the hot pasta.

- From Michael Luksa, executive chef, Yellow Brick Bank


2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded

1 green bell pepper, seeded

1 small red onion

1 clove garlic

10 ripe plum tomatoes or one 28-ounce can

32-ounce can tomato juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Dash Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Process all solid ingredients in a food processor, leaving them a little chunky. In a bowl, whisk in remaining ingredients and chill.

Serves 6.

- From Michael Luksa, executive chef, Yellow Brick Bank

Cherry Soup

1/2 gallon Montmorency sour cherries, pitted (reserve pits)

1 cinnamon stick

3 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

1/2 cup sugar

1 lemon, cut in half

Sour cream for garnish

Bring white wine, cinnamon, sugar, lemon and pits to a boil in a stainless steel pot. Lower to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain liquid and return to pot. Add cherries and their juice. Bring back to a boil for two minutes. Chill.

To serve, place one tablespoon sour cream in a chilled bowl and ladle in soup.

Serves 6.

- From Michael Luksa, executive chef, Yellow Brick Bank

Peach Smoothie

Blend together one 8-ounce carton of low-fat peach yogurt with an 8 3/4-ounce can of peaches, drained.

Use 1/2 pound fresh peaches when available.

Add 6 to 8 ice cubes, one at a time, blending to form a slush.

Drink up.

-Maryann Oyler, Penn State Cooperative Extension

Chilled Peach Soup with Yogurt and Fresh Berries

10 large ripe peaches (He recommends using cling-free peaches - so you don't have to work so hard to pit them.)

Juice of one orange

Juice of one lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons honey

8 ounces plain yogurt

Fresh berries for garnish

Blanch, peel and pit peaches. Process until smooth in a food processor. Blend peaches, orange and lemon juices together in a bowl. This helps maintain color.

Whisk in remaining ingredients and chill.

Serve in a chilled bowl and garnish with berries.

Serves 6.

- From Michael Luksa, Executive Chef, Yellow Brick Bank

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