Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


More cold comfort

When the day is sizzling hot, turn to cool bowlfuls of comforting soup. They'll help you to beat the heat of summer. And they can help clean up the odds and ends that have been playing hide-and-seek in the refrigerator hoping you had forgotten about them. Another reason for making these cool comforts is that they can be made ahead in the cool of the day and removed from the refrigerator when hot food holds no appeal at all. If, however, you plan to cool off as quickly as possible, the soup can be quick-chilled by nesting its container in a pan filled with ice water, stirring often until the soup is cool, about 15 to 20 minutes.

LETTUCE AND HERB SOUP

This is incredibly easy to make and you may have almost all of the ingredients in your garden. Any kind of tender lettuce can be used but if you use "leaf lettuce" green is preferred. The red/bronze leaves will make the soup, less "cool."

1 cup white wine
4 small heads Boston lettuce, cored
2 cups cubed stale French bread
2 cups buttermilk
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons minced scallions
4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (about 1, dried)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (about 1, dried)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (about 1, dried)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (about 2 tablespoons, dried)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt, or more
pepper, to taste

Bring wine and 1 cup water to a simmer in a large pot. Place the lettuce in a steamer or collander over the wine mixture, cover and steam until wilted, about 3 minutes. Place in a blender with bread, buttermilk and garlic. Blend until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients and refrigerate until chilled. Taste to adjust seasonings. Makes 4 servings.

Spain's most famous culinary export is either paella or gazpacho (also spelled gaspacho), the cool, acidic and faintly sweet soup. The name derives from the Spanish caspa, which once meant leftovers or crumbs (the soup may originally have been made from over-ripe vegetables or vegetable scraps). Now the word means dandruff. Strange what happens to our words, isn't it?

GAZPACHO FROM SEVILLE

Originally this wonderfully appetizing "salad in a blender" was served at the end of a meal. Now it comes at the beginning or it is the meal.

1 slice country-style bread, about 1-inch thick, crusts removed
2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt

Soak bread for 30 minutes in a small bowl with water to cover. Squeeze out moisture with your hands. Puree bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and l cup water in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Push puree through a coarse sieve with the back of a wooden spoon. Gazpacho should be fairly thin. Season to taste. Chill at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning. Serve in individual bowls, cups or glasses and pass the garnishes.

Optional Garnishes: 12 green pepper, seeded and finely diced; 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced; 1 cup small croutons; 1/2 small white onion, peeled and finely diced; 1 small tomato, seeded and finely diced; Italian parsley and/or chopped chives.

OLD-FASHIONED VICHYSSOIS

An easy, elegant way to temper the heat and you can make this soup ahead in the cool of the day.. Great for lunch or as first course for a dinner party.

1 pound thin-skinned potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 pound sliced bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse and peel potatoes; cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Over high heat combine potatoes, onion, 2 3/4 cups chicken broth and sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes mash easily, about 20 minutes. In blender or food processor, whirl until smooth. Return to pan and add half-and-half. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Stir in more broth if you prefer a thinner soup. Meanwhile, cook bacon stirring until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer bacon to towels to drain. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle evenly with bacon and chives. Makes 4 servings.

CHILLED AVOCADO SOUP

This can be prepared in a matter of minutes. To make a meal serve with bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwiches or with toasted English muffins spread with mayonnaise and topped with shredded lettuce, a slice of tomato and crisp bacon.
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
3 shallots or scallions
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 drops Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/2 cup tomato salsa, or other salsa
cilantro or parsley, for garnish

In food processor or blender, combine avocados, shallots, sour cream, cream, chicken stock, salt and Tabasco. Process until smooth. Chill until ready to serve. Pour soup into serving cups or bowls and top each with a heaping teaspoon of salsa. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro. Makes 6 servings.

COLD SOUP IN A JIFFY -- NO SWEAT!

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All Aboard Harvest
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