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GOOD COOKING

Soup on Ice

July 29, 1993|ABBY MANDEL

Cold soups are good for the steamiest times--and they are as versatile as anything could possibly be. Consider them for serious entertaining or for the most informal occasions; as a main course or as the introduction to a meal. And should the day turn cool, consider serving your cold soup hot, since most cold soups do very well warmed up.

Cold soups last for a few days in the refrigerator. When they're made from cooked vegetables (or fruits, for that matter), they freeze well too. However, I don't recommend freezing soups made from uncooked pureed fruits or vegetables; you can't count on the flavor or consistency to hold up.

The soups that follow are my current cool favorites. The cold tomato soup is straightforward, the tomatoes pureed with a handful of fresh basil and further enhanced with balsamic vinegar and tomato juice. No cooking required.

Vichyssoise is a culinary classic. This one, less rich than the traditional recipe, boasts a particularly seductive smoothness.

The cucumber and cauliflower soup with fresh mint combines two white vegetables that complement one another. Cucumbers, when cooked, sweeten up considerably, which lightens the cauliflower.

A food processor minces, chops and thinly slices vegetables for quick cooking and purees them once they are cooked. To get a smoother puree, strain the cooking liquid from the softened vegetables. Once the puree is fairly smooth, add a little of the liquid. Then combine the remaining liquid with the puree in a mixing bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

When using store-bought chicken broth, opt for low-salt broth. Most canned chicken broth is highly salted, and though you can always add more salt to the soup, you can't take it out.

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Here, fully ripened tomatoes are pureed with red onion and fresh basil for a refreshing soup. This soup can be served right out of the processor bowl (chill all the ingredients) but it also holds up--and even improves--with a day in the refrigerator. To juice and seed tomatoes, gently squeeze tomato halves over sink to release the juice and seeds. Sometimes a quick shake of the hand helps.

FRESH TOMATO AND BASIL SOUP 1 (3-ounce) piece red onion, cut into pieces 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut in half, juiced and seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 cups tomato juice 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt Cayenne pepper Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Mince onion and basil leaves in processor. In batches, add tomatoes and process until pureed. Transfer pureed batches to 1 1/2 quart mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, tomato juice, cumin, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Stir well.

Add remaining vinegar if needed. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Serve chilled, garnished with fresh basil leaves. Makes 5 cups, or 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 79 calories; 328 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 18 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 2.05 grams fiber.

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A curious combination, cucumbers and cauliflower, works especially well in this simple recipe. Fresh mint is a refreshing addition. Fresh basil, tarragon or thyme would work well too. Whatever your choice, add just before serving.

CHILLED CUCUMBER AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH MINT 1 tablespoon oil 1 medium onion, minced 3 medium pickling cucumbers, about 1 pound total, peeled, split lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cauliflower florets 1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth Salt Freshly ground pepper Bunch fresh mint leaves

Heat oil in 1 1/2-quart pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and cucumbers. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add cauliflower and broth. Simmer, covered, until cauliflower is very tender, about 25 minutes.

Strain liquid from solids. Puree solids in processor until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add about 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Puree until smooth. Combine with remaining liquid in mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled or as long as 2 days. Can also be frozen as long as 3 months.

To serve, use processor metal blade to puree 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves with 1/2 cup soup. Combine puree with remaining liquid in mixing bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve chilled. Garnish with several fresh mint leaves per serving. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 59 calories; 114 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.91 gram fiber.

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\o7 Typically, recipes for vichyssoise simply list potatoes. With some experimenting, I found that new potatoes, whether large or small, give the best results both in terms of smoothness of texture and sweetness of flavor.

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