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.
Chilled Spinach Soup
Small package of chevre
2 C Greek yogurt
2 bunches of spinach, stems removed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch cilantro
1 T olive oil and 2 T butter
3 C vegetable stock
1 T garam masala
(note: a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, cumin, turmeric, ground red peppers, and/or cardamon is the same. Or curry powder works)
Cream together yogurt and chevre and set aside
Saute garlic, onion, ginger in the oil until golden brown
Add spinach and toss until wilted
Add stock and bring to a boil
Remove from heat
Add chevre and yogurt mixture
Process with immersion blender or in a blender
Add lemon and serve
Fresh tomato soup
5 fresh tomatoes
1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper
1 cup orange juice
3 cups water
1 T coconut sugar
juice from 1 lemon
Chop carrots and simmer in water and orange juice.
Chop onion, garlic, peppers and saute in oil.
Combine with now softened carrots.
Throw in herbs and sugar
Blend with immersion blender.
Chilled Tropical Fruit Soup
1 can crushed pineapple
1 red onion
1 nub fresh ginger diced ginger
2 cups plain yogurt
1 can of coconut cream
1 lemon, squeezed
2-3 cloves garlic
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup orange juice
Peel and dice fruit, onion, pepper
Add ingredients together in a bowl
use immersion blender or food processor to chop and mix together
This soup can be made with many variations. I list three fruits here, mangoes, cantaloupe and pineapple. I have made it with only two of these fruits. I have used guavas, also. Feel free to experiment!
A chunk of watermelon, peeled (I paid somewhat under $2.00 for the one I used)
1 cucumber, peeled
1 red bell pepper
1/2 can crushed pineapple
1 red onion
1/2 bunch cilantro
3 small cloves garlic
nub of fresh ginger, peeled
1 jalapeno pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
Put everything into a blender and chop it up. Add salt to taste. Let it sit for several hours for flavors to blend.
Carrot-Beet Soup with Dill
1 pound carrots
1 can of beets
3-4 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
3 Cups non-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups plain yogurt
1 bunch of fresh dill
Scrape and chop carrots.
Simmer in the vegetable broth.
Chop onion and garlic. Saute in the olive oil.
Combine cooked carrots, beets, and onions.
Process in blender or use immersion blender.
Squeeze lemon into the soup and stir.
Chill for several hours before serving.
Potato Leek Soup
6-8 gold potatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 T butter
3 Cups low salt vegetable broth
1 C heavy cream
1 C plain yogurt
Saute garlic and onion in the butter.
Add chopped leeks.
Simmer in vegetable broth.
After about 10 minutes, add the potatoes.
Cook until everything is soft.
Process in the blender, or sue an immersion blender.
Stir in cream and yogurt
Allow to chill.
Watermelon Dessert Soup
1 small watermelon
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 pint lemon sorbet
Peel and chop the watermelon. Chop the mint leaves. Add together and process in the blender or with an immersion blender. Pour into bowls. Add a scoop of sorbet to each bowl.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"