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GOOD COOKING

The Wet Chill

August 25, 1994|ABBY MANDEL

In the dog days of August, take-out and sandwiches are good, but better yet are chilled soups that require no cooking at all.

Southwestern gazpacho with avocado and shrimp, raita-inspired cucumber and yogurt soup, cantaloupe and peach soup--these cool concoctions can be the mainstay of a light meal or the refreshing prelude to a more formal summer feast.

Since there's no cooking involved, there's no need to add any fat, so all these soups are or can be made low-fat (omit the avocado if you're really watching it). Each soup relies on seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, and though freshness and ripeness of ingredients is important, they all also contain some shortcuts, such as canned juices, garbanzo beans and chicken broth.

When making pureed soups, I prefer a blender to a food processor because the texture comes out much smoother and more appealing. To puree fruits and vegetables in the blender, cut them into one-inch chunks and use some of the liquid in the recipe. This may necessitate preparing the soup in batches.

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Since fresh herbs can deteriorate or get lost in the chilling process, add them just before serving. And be sure to taste the chilled soup (to adjust the seasonings) before it goes on the table.

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Fresh vegetables give crunchy texture and maximum taste to a spicy tomato base; it's a great variation on gazpacho.

GUADALAJARA GAZPACHO WITH SHRIMP

1 pound tomatoes, seeded, chopped

2 cups spicy vegetable juice

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 medium avocado, diced 1/4 inch

1 cup jicama, diced

1 cup fresh corn, cut from cob

1/8 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

8 cooked, peeled large shrimp, deveined, cut into 1/3-inch slices

In blender puree tomatoes, spicy vegetable juice, chili sauce and lime juice until smooth. Pour into large bowl. Stir in green onions, avocado, jicama, corn, salt and pepper to taste. Chill at least 2 hours. Can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated.

Just before serving, stir and adjust seasonings to taste. Divide among 4 chilled soup bowls. Garnish with chopped cilantro and shrimp. Serve chilled. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

221 calories; 899 mg sodium; 21 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 2.24 grams fiber.

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This is a subtle, sustaining soup. For cool summer dining, it would be delicious served with a main - course Greek salad.

INDIAN CUCUMBER SOUP

1 large clove garlic

1/2 small onion

1 1/4 cups peeled, seeded cucumber slices

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed

1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

4 large mint leaves

In blender mince garlic, onion and cucumber, scraping down sides of container with spatula from time to time. Add garbanzo beans, chicken broth, yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated.

Just before serving, transfer mixture to blender with 4 mint leaves and puree. Adjust seasonings to taste. Divide among 4 chilled soup bowls. Serve chilled. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

164 calories; 718 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.

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Fragrant and refreshing, this soup works well with a chicken - salad lunch.

CANTALOUPE AND PEACH SMOOTHIE SOUP WITH RASPBERRIES

1/2 pound small peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

1 1/2 cups diced ripe cantaloupe

1 3/4 to 2 cups apricot nectar

2 tablespoons nonfat yogurt

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Zest 1 orange

1 cup fresh raspberries

In blender puree peaches, cantaloupe, 1 1/2 cups nectar, yogurt and 1 teaspoon lemon juice until smooth. Add more nectar and lemon juice as needed. Chill at least 1 hour. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated.

Just before serving, mix well. Taste for sugar-sweet balance. Divide soup evenly among 4 chilled soup bowls. Garnish with raspberries. Serve chilled. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

130 calories; 20 mg sodium; trace cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 33 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.71 grams fiber.

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