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Cold soup on a hot day

Fresh fruits, vegetables work well in chilled soups

Fresh fruits, vegetables work well in chilled soups

July 20, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

kristinw@herald-mail.com

In just a few weeks, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and peas will be fully ripe and ready to make the freshest summer salads, casseroles and side dishes.

But to get the most of the harvest season's bounty, Tri-State-area chefs recommend whipping up any number of delicious chilled soups.

Chilled soup can be made from most fruits and vegetables explains Judy Stains, culinary arts instructor at the James Rumsey Technical Institute in Martinsburg, W.Va. A successful soup relies heavily on the quality and flavor of the fresh ingredients used, she says.

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At this time of year, Stains enjoys chilled red pepper soup or chilled pea soup. Both use chicken stock as a base, adding pureed vegetables.

The cold variety of soup also can be a versatile meal component, Stains says.

"You can serve them as an appetizer, entree or a dessert," she says.

Gazpacho - a cold Spanish soup, perhaps the most familiar to many people - is made from a base of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions seasoned with various herbs, oil and vinegar.

"I would suggest that gazpacho only be prepared when tomatoes are at their peak season," Stains says. "When you make the soup, I would suggest a short shelf life after the soup has chilled because the tomatoes will sour."

The Yellow Brick Bank Restaurant in Shepherds-town, W.Va., has fans for its gazpacho, served at just the right temperature during the summer months.

When the weather gets warm, patrons start calling to see if the chilled soup is on the menu yet, executive chef Michael Luksa says.

"They look forward to it. It's a seasonal dish," he says.

Yellow Brick Bank generally maintains at least one chilled soup on its menu during the summer season. At the moment, there are two: Gazpacho and Montmorency Sour Cherry Soup.

"They are received very well," Luksa says. "I think (chilled soup) is a nice, light way to start a meal. It's easy on the palate."

It's not just the temperature that makes chilled soup ideal during steamy summer days. Cold soups are generally easy to prepare and require little to no over-the-flame cooking.

"It's not a lot of time in the kitchen," Luksa says. "Especially if you're dealing with this heat."

Gazpacho, for example, is "just a lot of knife work."

Luksa only serves chilled soups as appetizers, but Stains says "heavier" cold soups can make nice, light entrees.

Vichyssoise, for example, is a traditional French cold soup - made from leeks, onions, potatoes, herbs and cream - that could double as dinner.

Sweet, fruit-based soups could be desserts, Stains adds.

Leftover fruit soups made without sour ingredients like sour cream, vinegar or buttermilk can be frozen to make sorbet, Stains adds.

Because chilled soups can be fairly basic to prepare, Stains encourages cooks to experiment with the season's fresh fruits and vegetables.

A chilled soup could be crafted from fresh red peppers, for example. Chicken stock often makes a good base. Pureed green or Vidalia onions, cucumber, celery, fresh herbs and balsamic vinegar might be added to the peppers.

Chilled pea soup with mint is a cold, summer version of the more hearty and traditional pea soup made from ham stock.

Whatever the recipe, when it comes to chilled soups, the most important component is freshness.

"Eat (foods) when they are in season and enjoy them," Luksa says. Chilled soups are a great way to do just that.




Gazpacho


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




Chilled Three Berry Soup


1 pint red raspberries

1 pint blackberries

1 pint blueberries

8 ounces sour cream

8 ounces heavy cream

3 tablespoons honey

Berries and fresh mint for garnish

Pass raspberries through a food mill. In a separate container, combine blackberries and blueberries and pass through a food mill.

Combine sour cream and honey in a separate container.

Add 1/3 of the honey mixture to the raspberry puree and 2/3 to the blackberry-blueberry puree.

Chill for 1 hour.

Ladle 4 ounces of the blackberry-blueberry puree into a chilled bowl. Ladle 2 ounces of raspberry puree into the center of the bowl and garnish with fresh berries and mint.

Serves 6.

- From Michael Luksa, executive chef, Yellow Brick Bank




Montmorency Sour 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

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