This week we are focusing on the wonderful options for summertime cold soups. While most think of soup as fall and winter seasonal dishes, summer is a great time for soup, especially cold soup. The great thing about summertime soups is that they can be sweet or savory. It’s a great way to take advantage of all the vegetables and produce from your garden or the local farmers market.
The origins of soups – Soup is considered to be as old as the history of cooking. In times when food was scarce, dumping various ingredients into a pot to boil was not only cheap, it was also filling. Its simple constitution made it accessible to the rich and poor alike, and simple ingredients made it easy to digest for both the healthy and sick. Each culture adopted its own variation with the ingredients on hand, such as Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, and Italian minestrone, but the basics remain the same.
Cooking soup - Cooking soup held certain appeals and advantages to our culinary ancestors. Unlike the hot air rising from a roasting fire, boiling water comes into full contact with submerged foods. This allows for a quicker cooking time and more complete cooking. It also opens up foods to new flavors. For instance, cereal grains release starch into the liquid and cause it to thicken. Combining several ingredients and allowing them to mix together creates a new flavor. Soup allows certain animal parts, particularly bones, not to go to waste because boiling them extracts a natural flavor. Some inedible plants, such as acorns, become consumable after boiling away poisons or undesirable flavors.
Effects of soup on society - Historians believe soup served as the foundation for the first public restaurants in 18th century Paris. Soups such as broth, bouillon and consommé made their debut in these “restoratifs,” the word from which we derive “restaurant.” (I Love Soup, 2011) Here are some great ways to integrate the Bellisari’s family of products in summertime soups.
Chilled Calabrian and Sweet Tomato Gazpacho
5 medium sized ripe tomatoes, chopped (use the best quality and freshest you can find)
1 jar Bellisari’s Calabrian Pepper and Sweet Tomato Fennel Spread
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 red bell pepper (yellow or orange will also work if needed)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water
Dash cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
2-3 Tbsp. fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Blend together the tomatoes, Bellisari’s Calabrian Pepper and Sweet Tomato Fennel Spread, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, water and cayenne pepper until smooth (or until just a little chunky, if you prefer your gazpacho to have a bit more texture!)
Next, gently stir in the diced avocado and chopped parsley, stirring to combine well.
If possible, chill your raw gazpacho for at least two hours to let the flavors mingle and fully develop and combine. You might want to taste and adjust the seasonings to taste. A little squeeze of lime or lemon or a touch of salt can help bring out the flavors even more. Serve your gazpacho soup chilled or at room temperature and enjoy!
Spicy Mango Balsamic Ginger Soup
2 large mangos, peeled and destoned
½ jar Bellisari’s Balsamic, Shallot & Black Garlic Spread
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup cold water
1-2 small chili peppers, minced (or to taste)
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp. grated or minced ginger
Process all ingredients together in a blender until smooth and creamy, adding a bit more or less water as needed. Chill before serving.
Chilled Cucumber Soup
1 jar Bellisari’s Blue Cheese, Honey and Shallot Spread
1 cup vegetable broth
2 English cucumbers
4 green onions
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, combine Bellisari’s Blue Cheese, Honey and Shallot Spread and vegetable broth; set aside. In a food processor, purée 1 peeled, diced English cucumber, 2 sliced green onions, chopped fresh dill, and chopped fresh parsley. Add the cucumber mixture, fresh lemon juice, and salt to the Blue Cheese mixture; whisk to combine. Stir in 1 more peeled, diced English cucumber and 2 more sliced green onions; refrigerate for 1 hour.
Chilled Strawberry and Fig Soup
1/2 jar Bellisari’s Blistered Jalapeno and Fig Spread
2 pounds strawberries - (approx. 2 3/4 pints)
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3-4 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Add all of the ingredients to a blender and chop then liquefy/puree until smooth. For a thicker soup, add more yogurt, for a thinner soup, add more orange juice with another pinch of sugar as needed. May serve soup immediately but even better chilled for at least 2 hours. Before serving, taste and add additional sugar if desired as the sugar tends to mellow after being chilled. Garnish as desired.
Chilled Saigon Carrot Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ jar Bellisari’s Saigon Street Sauce
1 large onion
4 cup chopped carrots
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. curry
1/3 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Make the soup: Heat oil over medium-high heat, add the onion, carrots, and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the Bellisari’s Saigon Street Sauce, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, curry, and cayenne and cook for 1 more minute. Add 5 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until carrots are tender -- about 15 minutes. Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and chill.