When summer temperatures drain our enthusiasm to cook, cold soups become cuisine's kindest food. With a minimum of effort, they refresh, nourish and stimulate even sluggish appetites.
Iced soups have been relegated until recently to starters or desserts, but with lighter eating trends, they can easily become the basis of a meal. Served with sandwiches and salads, these iced tonics are fix-it-fast restoratives.
Many of the soups featured in the following recipes are creamy smooth but, unlike hot soups, they are free of cream and butter. Instead of caloric sour cream, cre`me fra ~che, or whole milk, these soups rely on nonfat yogurt and buttermilk for substance.
The excellence of cold soups depends on quality ingredients. Because most soups are uncooked, vegetables and fruits should be used as close to harvesting as possible. This is especially true of tomatoes, berries and peaches. Avocados, on the other hand, are picked and purchased slightly underripe, because ripe ones bruise easily. Dark green California Haas avocados, with a richer flavor than large Florida avocados, are plentiful in summer.
Though vegetables and fruits can be pure'ed in a blender or food mill, a food processor conveniently makes large batches at a time. It is also a time-saver when shredding or chopping raw vegetables for textured soups such as Spanish gazpacho and Indian mulligatawny. No matter what the ingredients, chilling mutes salt and seasoning. After chilling, just before serving, readjust seasonings to balance flavors.
If you've never made cold soups, or only tried them in restaurants as a first course, surprise yourself and make one for lunch or dinner. Kids of all ages seem to find pear soup and raspberry sorbet quite irresistible.
GOLDEN GAZPACHO WITH AVOCADO CREAM (6 servings)
Yellow tomatoes and peppers offer a bold color change to an old summer favorite. The quality of this dish reflects fresh produce. Alternatively, opt for local red peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes.
2 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 cup English cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 jalapenåo chili, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon toasted coriander seeds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Combine ingredients and place half of them in food processor. Pure'e until fairly smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until vegetables are diced. Season with salt and pepper. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve in iced goblets and garnish with Avocado Cream.
Per serving (including Avocado Cream): 121 calories, 2 gm protein, 14 gm carbohydrates, 8 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 17 mg sodium.
AVOCADO CREAM (Makes 6 servings)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup white grape juice
Seed and scrape avocado into a blender. Add lemon and grape juice and pure'e until creamy.
Per serving: 39 calories, .4 gm protein, 4 gm carbohydrates, 3 gm fat, .4 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium.
CHILLED AVOCADO BISQUE WITH TANGERINE CREAM (8 servings)
This soup is a cross between one served at the Mansion on Turtle Creek restaurant in Dallas and a delicacy from India's Karela region.
1 tablespoon avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 seeded jalapenåo, chopped
6 trimmed spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
1 quart vegetable stock
3 medium-size avocados, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt, to taste
Warm oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add coriander, jalapenåo and spinach and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add avocados.
Pure'e soup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Cover and chill for a few hours. Serve in soup bowls, garnished with Tangerine Cream.
Per serving (including Tangerine Cream): 148 calories, 3 gm protein, 8 gm carbohydrates, 13 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, .3 mg cholesterol, 28 mg sodium.
TANGERINE CREAM (8 servings)
2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt or 1/3 cup whipping cream
Juice and zest of 1 tangerine
Drain yogurt in a fine sieve for 30 minutes and combine with juice and zest; drizzle over soup. Alternately, whip cream and fold in juice and zest. Garnish individual bowls of soup with a spoon of cream.
Per serving: 15 calories, 1 gm protein, 3 gm carbohydrates, 0 gm fat, 0 gm saturated fat, .3 mg cholesterol, 14 mg sodium.
ICEHOUSE PEAR SOUP WITH RASPBERRY SORBET (8 servings)
This luscious starter or dessert soup is special for any special occasion -- from a Sunday brunch to evening terrace supper.
4 large Bosc pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 teaspoon tangerine zest
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon pure'ed fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups buttermilk
Pure'e pears with tangerine zest and lime juice in food processor or blender until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve. Whisk into the remaining ingredients and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve in individual chilled goblets garnished with a small scoop of sorbet.
Per serving (including sorbet): 110 calories, 3 gm protein, 24 gm carbohydrates, 1 gm fat, .4 gm saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 69 mg sodium.
RASPBERRY SORBET (8 servings)
1 1/4 cups frozen raspberries
1/4 cup white grape juice
1 tablespoon juice-sweetened raspberry preserves
Combine frozen raspberries, juice and preserves in a food processor, pulse a few times, and then process into a stiff slush. Use immediately or, using a small scoop, shape into balls and re-freeze.
Per serving: 21 calories, .2 gm protein, 5 gm carbohydrates, .1 gm fat, 0 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, .5 mg sodium.
ICED CUCUMBER-LIME SOUP WITH MINT YOGURT (6 servings)
This variation of an Indian cucumber raita is light and refreshing with almost any summer menu.
2 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts
2 cups nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely shredded
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry-roasted in the oven and crushed
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 teaspoons lime juice
Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
In a blender, pulse nuts until powdered. Add 1/4 cup yogurt and mint and blend until smooth. Force through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing to extract flavor from nuts and mint. Set aside for garnish.
Squeeze cucumbers with your hands to extract juice, then drain on paper towels. In a bowl, combine cucumber with the remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper and chill well for at least 3 hours. Garnish with mint yogurt.
Per serving: 69 calories, 5 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrates, 2 gm fat, .3 gm saturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 62 mg sodium.
MADRAS MULLIGATAWNYSTART NOTE: END NOTE SOUP (6 servings)
This uncomplicated version of a yogurt raw-vegetable soup is seasoned with toasted spices -- South Indian style.
2 1/2 cups nonfat yogurt, whisked
1 hot jalapenåo chili, seeded and slivered
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, deribbed, seeded and diced
1/2 cup defrosted baby peas
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix. Heat a small pan over moderate heat, add mustard seeds, cover and cook until they pop and turn gray. Remove pan from the heat, add cumin and allow the spices to cool. Add spices to the soup, stir and chill. Season and serve in individual bowls, garnished with cilantro.
Per serving: 86 calories, 7 gm protein, 14 gm carbohydrates, .6 gm fat, .2 gm saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 92 mg sodium.
BEET VICHYSSOISE (6 servings)
This shocking pink soup, mildly seasoned with aromatic cumin and cilantro, is best made the day before serving.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium-sized baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium-sized beets, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup skim milk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Minced fresh cilantro for garnish
Heat oil in heavy saucepan over low heat. Add potatoes and beets and cook slowly for 5 minutes; do not allow vegetables to brown. Add broth, coriander and cumin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Pure'e with an immersion blender or in food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, cool and refrigerate for 3 to 8 hours to allow flavors to develop.
Just before serving, whisk in cold milk and season with pepper and salt. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with fresh cilantro.
Per serving: 82 calories, 2 gm protein, 14 gm carbohydrates, 2 gm fat, .4 gm saturated fat, .3 mg cholesterol, 22 mg sodium.
Yamuna Devi lives in Washington and is the author of "Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking" (E.P. Dutton).