By Jeanette Carlson –
The warm days of Spring are here proclaiming fresh local fruits and vegetables of the season. It’s time to visit those farm stands and farmers’ markets and gather up ingredients for the first course of your next dinner party – cold soup. Beautiful colors, delicate flavors, creamy or silky texture and garnishes that can become the signature of your table, cold soups can make you next meal memorable.
Treat your soup with respect and chill your soup bowls. And remember to pair the right wine with your soup. Here are three of my favorite chilled soups (and accompanying wines) that wonderfully express the exuberant flavors of the season.
Chilled Mango Soup
(from Field To Feast by Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand and Heather McPherson)
This particular book celebrates Florida farmers, chefs and artisans. The mango soup recipe comes from Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the garden’s sister outpost, the 20-acre Fairchild Farm which cultivates (among other things) 500 mango varieties some of them with names such as Bombay, Carabao or Carrie. Use whatever variety of mango that is available to you for this clean-tasting and palette-refreshing soup that is ridiculously easy to make.
2 large ripe mangos, peeled, but from the pit and chopped
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ tablespoon fresh lemongrass, finely minced
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped for garnish
Blend mango until smooth in a blender or food processor. Combine with ginger, lemongrass and chicken stock in a large bowl. Stir well. Stir in yogurt and refrigerate. Before serving, garnish with cilantro. Serve with a Riesling wine.
This lovely book celebrates the foods and people of Martha’s Vineyard with recipes and stories. This chilled soup, Chlodnik (it means cold in Polish) is from the kitchen Gloria Levitas, an anthropologist who specializes in the cultural analysis of food. Chlodnik is a perfect first course at dinner, but it makes a pleasing lunch when served with a sandwich. The Lilly Pulitzer pink color of this soup is festive and so happy.
2 beets, scrubbed pr peeled and quartered
1 cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise and seeded
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 green apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
8 ounces plain yogurt
16 ounces buttermilk
½ teaspoon sour salt (or 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 radishes, finely chopped
2 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
Place the beets in a saucepan and cover them with water. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Cook covered for about 20 minutes over medium heat until tender. Remove the beets with a slotted spoon. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Put the beets, reserved cooking liquid, cucumber, carrot, apple, garlic and half of the scallions in a blender or food processor and mix until liquefied. Add the yogurt and buttermilk and mix again, until well combined. Next add the sour salt, sea salt and sugar. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Mix again. Chill. To serve, ladle the chlodnik into soup bowls and sprinkle with dill, chopped radishes, remaining scallions, and eggs as a garnish just before serving. You can also top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream. Serve with a chunk of fresh-baked rye bread and a glass of Rose wine.
Cold Tomato and Zucchini Soup
(from The Culinary Institute of America Book of Soups)
This garden-fresh soup, much like gazpacho, is a great way to make use of a bounty of fresh vegetables and herbs. If time permits, make it a day ahead of serving to allow the flavors to blend. Don’t store it more than two or three days because tomatoes can sour quickly.
1 ¼ pounds plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped coarsely (about four cups)
2 cups tomato juice
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 red pepper, seeded, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ tablespoons drained, prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
vegetable broth as needed
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
½ cup croutons (homemade or store bought)
Combine all the ingredients except the broth, Tabasco, salt, pepper and croutons in a blended or food processor and process in batches if necessary. Process in short pulses to a coarse puree. Pour into a bowl. If soup is too thick, thin it slightly with broth. Season with the Tabasco, salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve in chilled bowls, garnished with croutons. Serve with Zinfandel or Sangiovese wine.