Summertime Soup Beats the Heat
One of the best parts of planting a vegetable garden is harvesting the bounty and using it for quick summer suppers. An icy cold gazpacho made with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and garlic is the perfect combination of growing and grazing.
Just about any sturdy vegetable can be blended into a refreshing pick-me-up on a wiltingly hot day. Beets, carrots, broccoli, leeks, asparagus, zucchini and potatoes are all delicious when cooked up and served cold.
Fresh greens, like spinach and arugula, also make an appetizing soup when combined with scallions, parsley, dill, cucumber and garlic. Gazapacho Verde makes a vivid green and chilly soup as featured in “The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden” cookbook.
A Basic Recipe
The basic recipe for a cold soup consists of a main vegetable that’s sliced or chopped and then sautéed or roasted and simmered in a vegetable or chicken stock with herbs, spices and other vegetables until soft. The mixture is pureed in a blender or food processor until smooth, chilled and served in frosty bowls or cups. For creamy soups, use heavy cream, sour cream, half-and-half, yogurt or buttermilk.
Herbs like chives, dill, parsley, thyme, oregano, and cilantro are also standard fare as a flavoring or a garnish. Because cilantro grows quickly, plant every few weeks to assure a fresh crop all summer long.
Traditional vegetable combinations include red peppers and onion, tomato and basil, leek and potato, and cucumbers and green onions. There are unlimited possibilities for making creative combinations depending on what’s growing in your garden.
Here’s a recipe for the cold Spanish soup called Gazpacho, created by Colorado gardener Shirley Pendleton. This recipe takes advantage of many of the fresh vegetables and herbs you already have growing or can find at the farmer’s market. The Gazpacho recipe first appeared in “A Thyme For Cooking” cookbook, published by the Pueblo Herb Society in 1994 and is reprinted here with permission.
4 cups cold tomato juice
2 cups fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, finely diced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely diced (optional)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon tarragon or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 whole lime
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Worchestershire sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar (or less to taste)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Combine all ingredients, cover tightly and refrigerate. Serve cold in chilled bowls with fresh, crusty bread. Serves 4-6.