So by now, we have all been barbecued to death. We have had every rib, brisket, hamburger and hot dog that we dare eat. Plus, we might just lose it if we have to pretend to enjoy Aunt Ethel’s potato salad just one more Saturday afternoon. In honor of another summer come and gone, I say we finish with a cool and refreshing, often-forgotten summer food — the cold soup.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Cold soup? I’m not into stuffy French food.” Well, cold soups can be so much more. They are refreshing, vibrant and packed with the nutrients we all need and crave. They are also easy to make, easy to vary the recipes and a snap to present. If you’re a bit hesitant, try it as an appetizer or starter at your next gathering. They can be served in small glasses or bowls and garnished with a bit of whimsy. They also can work beautifully as part of a brunch or a healthy light lunch. So put your preconceived notions about cold soups aside and incorporate some of these into your usual summer sensations.
SPICY GAZPACHO WITH LIME SHRIMP
1 (10-ounce) container grape tomatoes, divided
1 1/2 cups sliced English cucumber, divided
1 cup diced red bell pepper, divided
1-2 jalapeños seeded, deveined and sliced
3/4 cup diced Vidalia or other sweet onion, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 garlic cloves
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 8 ounces)
Cut 8 grape tomatoes into quarters. Combine quartered tomatoes, 1/4 cup cucumber, 1/4 cup bell pepper, and 1/4 cup onion in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine jalapeño, remaining grape tomatoes, remaining 1 1/4 cups cucumber, remaining 3/4 cup bell pepper, remaining 1/2 cup onion, 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic cloves, and canned tomatoes in a food processor; pulse until almost smooth or until desired consistency. Refrigerate 25 minutes.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, lime juice, minced garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and shrimp in a medium bowl. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally.
Place about 1 cup soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 5 shrimp and 1/4 cup cucumber mixture.
CHILLED BEET SOUP
1 1/2 pounds small or medium beets (about 2 bunches, trimmed), well-cleaned
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 strips (3 inches long) orange zest
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth or water
2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup crème fraîche
Heat the oven to 375 F. Put the beets and garlic on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Scatter on the orange zest and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil. Fold up the sides of the foil and crimp to make a tight packet. Slide the foil packet onto a baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for 1 hour. Open the packet carefully (to avoid the steam) and check that the beets are tender by piercing one with the tip of a sharp knife. The knife should slide in easily; if it doesn’t, reseal the package and continue baking. Set aside to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Using paper towels, rub the skins off the beets and cut the beets into chunks. Peel the garlic cloves. Discard the thyme and orange zest, saving any juices collected in the foil.
Drop about one-third of the beet chunks, the garlic, and any collected juices into a blender. Add some of the chicken broth and the honey. Before turning on the blender, vent the lid by removing the pop-out center if there is one or just open the lid a bit, and drape a clean dish towel over the vented lid. Blend to a smooth purée and transfer to a bowl. Continue in batches, puréeing all the beets. Stir in the orange juice and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate to chill the soup thoroughly. Refrigerate until serving time. To serve, ladle the soup into cups or bowls and spoon a bit of crème fraîche onto each serving. Garnish with watermelon radishes and microgreens, if you like.
CREAMY CORN AND CRAB SOUP
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
6 cups corn kernels (from 6 ears)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped celery leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon plus leaves for garnish
Flaky sea salt
1 small tub fresh, cleaned large lump crab meat
Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add corn; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is softened and beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes.
Add thyme sprigs and 5 cups water to pot. Bring corn mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until corn is very soft, 6-8 minutes longer; discard thyme sprigs.
Working in batches, purée corn mixture in a blender until smooth (or use an immersion blender in the pot). Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on solids; discard solids. Transfer soup to a large bowl, cover, and chill until cold, at least 2 hours.
Divide soup among bowls and top with cold crab meat and tarragon. Drizzle with oil and season with sea salt and pepper.
ENGLISH PEA AND ARUGULA SOUP
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 pound fresh English peas, shelled (about 1 cup)
8 ounces baby arugula (about 6 cups packed leaves)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chives or edible flowers
Heat 4 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil.
Add peas and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in arugula. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until arugula has wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
Working in 2 batches, purée pea mixture in a blender, filling no more than halfway and adding up to 2 tablespoons water to each batch to achieve desired consistency. Stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Divide the soup among 4 bowls. Top with edible flowers and chives. Serve immediately.
MINTY CANTALOUPE SOUP
1 medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 sprigs of fresh mint, chiffonade
In blender or food processor, blend together melon, yogurt and juice until smooth. Place in large bowl and stir in lime juice. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Ladle into bowls, garnish with mint and cantaloupe spheres if desired and serve.
Special thanks to Central Market for providing the food.
For more on Beth Maya, please visit foodbybethmaya.com.