Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


Soups: Some like them hot--some do not

Lots of tomatoes and cucumbers are finding themselves in the soup these warm days and believe it or not, so are nasturtiums. Nasturtiums have been showing up in salads for years now but I haven't seen them used as an ingredient, not just a garnish, in soups. That proves that a nasturtium is more than just a pretty face!


Nasturtium Soup

This soup is quick and easy to make. It is best if you use both nasturtium flowers and leaves--half and half--as the leave have a piquant taste and the flowers are blander, but oh, so colorful. Makes 4 servings.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 or 2 pinches saffron threads
15 nasturtium flowers
15 nasturtium leaves, quite large
1 lime, juice of
Sea or kosher salt

Combine butter, broth and saffron in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the nasturtium flowers and leaves and remove from the heat. Puree flowers and leaves in a food processor, gradually adding enough of the liquid to make a fairly smooth mixture. You'll have tiny flecks of flowers and leaves. You can leave as is, or if you prefer a smooth soup, strain it. Return soup to pan and warm just long enough to bring the temperature up; do not let cook for more than a minute or two. Season with lime juice and salt before serving.


Green and Red Layered Soup

Clear straight-sided glasses or wineglasses show off the two layers of color. You can also use soup bowls and the bottom layer will be a surprise. The recipe calls for white wine vinegar but seasoned rice wine vinegar also works well. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup or less, white wine vinegar
Salt
2 large avocados, firm but ripe
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 cucumber
3 tablespoons minced shallots or red onions
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Tomato Layer: Rinse and core tomatoes; cut into chunks. Whirl in a food processor until smooth, and then rub through a fine strainer into a bowl; you should have about 3 cups. Discard the residue or save it for pasta sauce. Season puree with 2 to 3 tablespoons vinegar, or to taste. Add salt. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, until cold.

Avocado Layer: Peel and pit avocados; cut into chunks in a cleaned food processor, whirl the avocados, broth, sour cream and lime juice together until smooth. Add salt to taste. Cover surface with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, until cold.

Garnish Topping: Peel cucumber; cut in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Dice cucumber into 1/8-inch pieces; you should have about 1 cup. In a small bowl, combine cucumber, shallots, 1 tablespoon vinegar and minced tarragon. Cover and chill until cold, at least 30 minutes.

To Serve: Stir avocado mixture to blend and pour equal portions into glasses. Whisk tomato mixture to blend and gently pour over avocado. Top by sprinkling with cucumber mixture.


Carrot Soup with Avocado and Ginger

You can make this in 15 minutes or less--providing you make your carrot juice ahead or buy it. You can easily make carrot juice in a blender, processor, or juicer. It is just a matter of grinding up fresh carrots (no need to peel) and pressing them to obtain the juice. Makes about 4 cups.

2 ripe avocados
3 cups fresh carrot juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 1/4 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of curry powder

Quarter avocados, then pit and separate meat from the peel. Combine 1 avocado with carrot juice, salt, 4 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons ginger; whirl in a food processor or blender until very smooth. Cut remaining avocado into 1/4-inch dice. Then gently toss with remaining teaspoon lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, curry powder and a pinch of salt. Serve the soup garnished with the seasoned avocado dice.


Melinda's Quick Curried Cream of Pea Soup

This is not the traditional French pea soup made from dried split peas which you soak, boil, let stand overnight and then you use to make a very good, very heavy soup. This also very good, completely different, pea soup is made from fresh or frozen peas in about 20 minutes. You can substitute peas with edible pods if you have them. Melinda Brown likes to serve it on her patio or take it on a picnic. Makes 6 servings.

1 cup shelled fresh or frozen peas
1 medium onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk with leaves, sliced
1 medium potato, sliced
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon curry powder, or more
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half

Combine vegetables and seasonings with 1 cup stock in saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Puree in batches in processor or blender. Pour into bowl and whisk in remaining stock and half-and-half. Served chilled or at room temperature.

It's never too hot nor too cold for a bowl of soup.


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