July 22, 2008

Summer Soups

I love soup! During the Summer there's no shortage of fresh veggies and this is the time of year that eating your soup cold is welcome.

Veggie stocks are a simple 30 minute step, rather than the house warming 3 PLUS hours for meat stocks. In some cases like my Gazpacho, freshly juiced tomatoes and a drop or two of sherry vinegar with a splash of water creates the base, no need for even turning on the stove.

As I wrote about in a past posting, I've been testing recipes from Dana Slatkin's The Summertime Anytime Cookbook, this is where I found this creamy bite of summer on a spoon, Chilled Avocado-Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil. Another one of my favorite resources is (but of course!) bon appetit magazine, this August issue is brimming with Summer recipes. Dorie Greenspan shares a recipe for Summer Corn Soup from the kitchen of her summer house on Connecticut's shoreline, no stock here, simply whole milk.

So enjoy this trio of Summer Soups. Turn off the stove and get used to using that blender!

Heirloom GazpachoServes 42lbs Heirloom tomatoes, halved (any type of juicy tomatoes will suffice)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red bell pepper, deseeded & chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled & half chopped & reserve the other half small dice
2 C bread crumbs (any sort will do, multi-grain or a simple country white)
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
2 T sherry vinegar
sea salt to taste

1 pint of cherry &/or grape tomatoes, halved
reserved 1/2 of cucumber, small dice

Working over a sieve set over a large non-reactive bowl (glass or stainless steel will do!), gently squeeze the 2lbs of tomato halves to release the seeds and juice. Press on the solids to release all of the juice and discard the seeds.
Chop the halves and toss in with the strained tomato juice.

Add all other ingredients to the tomato juice mixture, excluding the garnish ingredients. Stir and let this mixture stand at room temperature for one hour.

Working in batches, puree the ingredients until smooth. If too thick then add 1/4 C of cold water at a time to thin out to your liking. Season with salt, add a little lime if you like and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Serve over halved cherry/grape tomatoes and the small diced cucumber, drizzle with your favorite extra virgin olive oil.

Chilled Avocado-Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil
adapted from Dana Slatkin's The Summertime Anytime CookbookCilantro Oil

1 C coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t kosher salt

1 ear corn, husks removed
1 qt. low-sodium vegetable broth
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 medium white onion, chopped
kosher salt
2 firm but ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
3 T fresh lime juice
1/4 sour cream

1) Prepare the cilantro oil: In a blender or small food processor, puree the cilantro, oil and salt. Pour the mixture into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and let it drain for 15 minutes. Store the oil in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

2) Heat a dry, heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and roast the whole corn, turning occasionally, until charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Transfer the corn to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob. Cut the cob into thirds.

3) Bring the kernels, cob pieces, broth, garlic, onion and 1 1/2 t of salt to a boil in a large saucepan and boil until the liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, uncovered. Discard the cob pieces.

4) In a blender, puree the corn mixture. Add 1 of the avocados and 2 T of the lime juice to the blender; puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a container, cover the surface of the soup with plastic wrap, and then cover the container with plastic wrap. Chill the soup for at least 1 hour, until very cold.

5) To serve, use a small melon-ball scoop to make balls of the remaining avocado or simply dice it into small cubes. In a small bowl, toss the avocado gently with the remaining tablespoon of lime juice. Ladle the soup into 4 chilled, shallow soup bowls. Divide the avocado among the bowls, then drizzle each with a little sour cream (thin if necessary with a little water or lime juice) and a swirl of cilantro oil.

Summer Corn Soup
adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, August 2008 issue
'Summer House Cooking' by Dorie Greenspan
3 C whole milk, (Raw is always best if you can get your hands on it!)3 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs broken in half and reserved
2 T (1/4 stick) butter (That would be unsalted, of course)1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 C water
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs (This part was tricky, as I grow my own, so my sprigs are huge, I would suggest if you grow your own, just a 2" sprig will suffice)1 bay leaf (If you grow your own, then 2 fresh)Ground white pepper (I've never been a white pepper fan, black pepper works just as well if you don't mind the black specks)Garnish

2 thick bacon slices, diced (I used a few slices of prosciutto)
1/3 C fresh corn kernels cut from about 1/2 ear of corn
1 green onion, thinly sliced
pinch of cayenne pepper
creme fraiche, stirred to loosen

Soup: Bring milk and corncob halves (not kernels) just to boil in heavy medium pot. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep while sauteing vegetable.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes (do not let onion brown). Add corn kernels, carrot, celery, and garlic; cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water, herb sprigs, bay leaf, and milk with corncobs. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cover partially, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

Discard corncobs, herb sprigs, and bay leaf. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches puree soup in blender until very smooth. Strain into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Season soup to taste with salt and white peppe.

Do Ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Garnish: Cook bacon in small skillet over medum heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in corn, green onion, and pinch of cayenne. Do Ahead: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Rewarm soup over medium heat. Divide among bowls. Sprinkle garnish over drizzle with creame fraiche, and serve.

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