Planning summer menus brings two things to mind. One is the heat. You want to eat, but nothing merits standing over a hot stove, cooking. Appetites come and go, but nothing cooked, and therefore hot, seems to appeal. “Keep the food light,” everyone says.
The other experience that comes to mind in summer is the produce aisle groaning under mounds of watermelons, ripe tomatoes, mangoes and peppers. Roadside stands open, peddle sweet corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This is the time for celebrating the abundance of the soil.
Summer is not the time for stews and pot roasts. Fresh produce does not need extra cooking time to impart flavors. Over-cooking tomatoes or sweet corn (and that can happen in mere minutes) destroys the magic taste of their fresh harvest.
This summer I have turned to cold soups for most of my meals. If I need to spend more than ten minutes total time cooking over a stove it does not get made. Many of the soups I have played with require no cooking at all.
And, I have learned that the best time for cooking in the summer is in the morning. For me, my kitchen window faces west and it gets hot in the afternoon sun. But, universally, kitchens are cooler in the morning. And, by getting all the food prep done early allows you time for a spontaneous swim or a sunset walk before dinner. And, these soups have enough time for chilling.
These soups, garnished with slivered ham, shrimp, cooked chicken, or grated cheese become full meals. I have discovered crema at my Hispanic grocery store. Richer and not quite as tangy as sour cream, its lushness contrasts nicely with every soup I present here.
A note on my recipes. I scan the internet for recipes similar to whatever my craving-of-the-day. I note possible variations on the theme I have selected. I then turn off my computer, and work from intuition on the soup I am creating.
I then turn to creating my soup. I assemble all the ingredients I have decided I will use, and lay them out in the order I think I will be using them. Measurements, as I come to the ingredients are approximate. Before I return the ingredients to their storage places I write down what I used. This is how I have come up with these recipes. Feel free to experiment as you replicate these soups.
Note: I use no meat, nor meat broths in these recipes. I wanted to keep them vegetarian, and therefore most enjoyable for my friends with all their eating habits. All these soups are gluten-free. Only the potato-leek soup is not paleo. They are all healthy! Eat and enjoy.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"