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Warmer weather means it’s time for chilled soups and salads

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

Chilled soups are a great idea for these warmer days when you just want something light. And what would taste better than a cool salad made with cantaloupe and cucumber?

When I started thinking about making some chilled soups, I came up with a few that are relatively easy to make with ingredients most of us have in the pantry or fridge — no going to the store for an ingredient or two that you probably won’t be using again until the kids leave home.

The king of cold soups is gazpacho, a Spanish tomato-based soup. Other versions can be made using with avocados, corn and tropical fruits … even watermelon.

For a truly light and easy to prepare chilled soup, I really like the traditional Greek lemon soup, made with chicken broth, lemon juice, eggs and rice. It’s usually served hot, but when chilled and seasoned with a little dill, it makes for a smooth, luscious starter for any summer meal.

 

Greek Lemon Soup with Dill

4 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup long-grain white rice

2 large eggs

3 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice

1 green onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsps. chopped fresh dill (or 1 Tbsp. freeze-dried)

In a medium saucepan, simmer stock and rice until rice is very tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Whisk eggs together in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot stock mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until heated through, at least 180 degrees, but not boiling; remove from heat.

Strain soup into a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate until cold (can be made up to 2 days ahead). Before serving, stir in green onion and dill; salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.

 

Zucchini Soup

This soup can be served hot or cold.

1 large zucchini, sliced thin

2 medium onions, sliced thin

Butter

2-1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. basil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan over medium heat, sauté sliced zucchini and onions in butter. Add chicken broth and milk and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a blender, add nutmeg and basil, and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Can be reheated or served cold. Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Curried Broccoli Soup

A good starter for lunch or dinner, it can be served hot or cold.

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp. thyme

8 cups chopped broccoli (stems and florets)

2 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the butter melts. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, stirring, until fragrant.

Stir in broccoli. Add water and broth; bring to a lively simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook until broccoli is very tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids). Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Can be refrigerated (covered) for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Serve cold or hot with a dollop of sour cream.

 

Polish Dill Pickle Soup

This soup tastes best chilled, the next day.

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced dill pickles

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup diced potatoes

1-1/2 Tbsps. all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

Salt to taste

In a large pot, add the carrots, pickles and chicken stock. Cook over medium heat for 35-40 minutes and then add potatoes; cook until soft, about another 20 minutes.

Combine flour and milk in a small bowl, and gradually stir into soup. Continue stirring until mixture begins to boil; remove from heat. Season to taste with salt. Can be served hot or chill for a few hours to serve cold. Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Chilled Tomato Bisque (Gazpacho)

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 cup V-8 juice

2 Tbsps. sour cream

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add sliced red onion, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5-7 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice and V-8 juice.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until chilled.

Just before serving, transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Place pureed soup in a large serving bowl and stir in remaining soup. Whisk in sour cream and serve cold. Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Chilled Cucumber, Basil and Mint Soup

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/4 cup sliced scallions

1 cup water

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. hot sauce

Salt

Thin cucumber slices (optional)

Puree sour cream, basil, mint, scallions and water in a blender. Add cucumber. Pulse until just combined but still slightly chunky. Stir in lemon juice and hot sauce; season with salt. Chill soup at least 3 hours (soup is best served the same day). Top each serving with thin cucumber slices, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

 

Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 tsp. ground coriander

Salt and ground pepper, to taste

1/8 tsp. ground cardamom

Sprinkle of ground red pepper flakes, to taste

1 medium ripe cantaloupe

1 English hothouse cucumber

1/4 cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds

Chopped cilantro, to taste

Chopped mint leaves, to taste

Mix first six ingredients for dressing. Cut cantaloupe and cucumber into bite-sized cubes and place in large bowl. Add roasted pumpkin seeds, cilantro and mint leaves. Toss with dressing.

 

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, email him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.