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Monday, August 8

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There was a time when I was intimidated by the idea of chilled soup. It seemed somehow wrong, like eating pasta dry or ice cream hot. Eventually I realized that some things that are good hot are even better cold. Like iced tea. I also learned that cooking and eating during the sweltering summer months in Chicago takes a little creativity and a lot of refrigeration. These are two of my favorite cold soups, Chilled Berry Soup and Chilled Borscht, which I sometimes just call Pink Soup.

Chilled Berry Soup

The following recipe yields a single serving of soup, but this recipe adapts itself very well to large quantities. Just use a bigger bowl and keep the proportions the same.

Scoop some plain yogurt into a cereal bowl, about three big spoonfuls. Pour about half a cup of good orange juice over the yogurt and mix them up with a whisk or a fork. Drizzle in about a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey (more or less, depending on your sweet tooth). Sprinkle on some cinnamon or nutmeg, then add a healthy serving of berries. Sliced strawberries work well, and blueberries float delightfully in the bowl -- feel free to experiment with different fruits and combinations. I especially like to make this soup with mixed frozen berries from the grocery store. As the berries melt, they impart a gorgeous pink color to the soup.

If you're feeling resourceful, consider making your own yogurt at home. It's easy, economical, and you don't need a special machine. All you have to do is mix a few tablespoons of yogurt with active cultures into some fresh milk and keep it warm until the bacteria replicates and the milk thickens into yogurt. This site is a good resource on yogurt making.

Pink Soup

Borscht is a soup most traditionally served hot. This pureed version comes to the table ice cold from the fridge, which makes it the perfect dish for a sweltering summer dinner. Sweet, earthy beets impart their gorgeous fuchsia color onto everything they touch, including your hands and cutting boards, so be careful when you're making this soup not to splash things around with too much enthusiasm, or at least be prepared to wipe up spills quickly before they have time to stain.

Beets are naturally sweet tasting, which contrasts beautifully with the savory flavors of this soup. This recipe makes six large servings.

4 large beets (Try to get fresh organic beets, they have more flavor.)
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 teaspoon dill
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup tomato puree
Sour cream for topping

Peel and slice the beets. Bring the beets, water and salt to a boil in your favorite soup pot and simmer for 20 minutes or until beets are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove about a cup of beets and set them aside for later. Chop the rest of the vegetables and add them to the pot. Add more water so that everything is submerged. Simmer the soup for another 20 minutes or until everything is very tender. Working in small batches, puree the soup in your blender or food processor until completely smooth. Return the puree to the pot, and add the dill, vinegar, honey, and tomato puree. Dice the beets you set aside earlier and throw them in the pot too. Season to taste, then refrigerate overnight.

Serve chilled and topped with a healthy dollop of sour cream. If you serve this at a party, you're guaranteed to get some gasps over the beautiful color of this soup. Sometimes I'm not sure whether to eat it or paint with it.

Footnote: Both recipes above have been appropriated and adapted from Mollie Katzen's indispensable Moosewood Cookbook.

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emily / May 12, 2004 1:43 PM

  • Gazpacho
  • is another yummy cold soup, with as many variations as cooks who make it. It's really easy to make and perfect for hot and humid summer nights.

    I've never cooked with beets before, so I am intrigued by the pink soup. I can't wait to try it!

    Naz / May 12, 2004 1:50 PM

    Cold soups are good. I've had a variety of them over the years in different countries and places. Gazpacho is real good of course, though like beer, loses it's goodness when it starts to get warm. I saw an entire book recently dedicated to cold soups (though some were smoothies in disguise methinkg). They're good for the summer for sure.

    lena / May 12, 2004 7:22 PM

    vicheycoise (that is spelled so wrong) -- the french cucumber, leek soup, is so yummy too.

    Ruthie Hansen / May 13, 2004 2:05 AM

    I was a little disappointed in the gazpacho I made last summer when I had my wisdom teeth out. I'd like to try again, drug free this time. Can anyone point me to an awesome gazpacho recipe?

    emily / May 14, 2004 11:08 AM

    This is a great gazpacho recipe from the Food Network that I've made before. I would use a shallot or two instead of the onion, and add a dollop of sour cream and chopped fresh basil on top! Yummm.


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