Cold soup makes delicious, refreshing summertime meal
“Cold soups tend to be very defining and very light,” said Sean Mayhew, executive chef at Made L.V. at Tivoli Village. “There’s so many options out there. I think with cold soups, it’s up to you to be creative.”
July 12, 2015 - 5:00 am
How about a nice bowl of soup?
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: Who in the heck wants to eat soup in this kind of weather? Yet soup tends to be nutritious and kind of comforting. That’s why, when you’re thinking about dinnertime these days, cold soups deserve a spot on the menu.
“It’s nice to have in the summer,” said Julian Serrano, executive chef of Picasso and Lago at Bellagio and Julian Serrano at Aria. “People like to have something cold in the summer.”
“Cold soups tend to be very defining and very light,” said Sean Mayhew, executive chef at Made L.V. at Tivoli Village. “There’s so many options out there. I think with cold soups, it’s up to you to be creative with it and kind of be open-minded and train your palate and your taste buds.”
Mayhew likes to take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables. He likes the strawberries that are in the market now, but if you’re thinking of the cloying, one-dimensional strawberry soups of the ’80s, think again.
“If I was going to make a cold soup right now, I probably would go straight to a strawberry gazpacho,” Mayhew said. “Balance it out with roasted peppers, cucumbers, mint, jalapeno juice and, of course, your tomato juice. Kick it up a notch with some toasted rye croutons.
“Let it get really happy and marry overnight; all the juices and flavors would come together. You just blend that up nice and light, incorporate a little olive oil. You can always build on that with textures — add creaminess with goat cheese, add smokiness by charring vegetables such as asparagus, saltiness with a nice shaved piece of Serrano ham or prosciutto. You want to balance it out; you don’t want to have a straight strawberry soup. Everything has to be in harmony so you don’t have one neutral flavor.”
Mark LoRusso, executive chef of Botero at Encore, is featuring a cold heirloom soup in his restaurant for a couple of reasons.
“A.) the weather,” LoRusso said. “B.) Just to kind of showcase a great summer product like heirloom melons. And it’s a little variety.”
LoRusso said he thinks it’s important that a cold soup be product-driven.
“Even though we cook the melon, we cook it very lightly with a little bit of mint, a little bit of onion, a little bit of balsamic vinegar,” he said. “We don’t cook it long, because we want that body. I think if you just juice the melon, it’s too sweet.”
“I honestly feel that if you’re going to make a cold soup, you need to cook the vegetable, you need to properly cook it,” Mayhew said. “You can’t just blend a raw vegetable and expect great texture.”
And LoRusso said the quality of the product is important. “I tell my guys, if we don’t get good melons, don’t bother.”
At his eponymous restaurant, Serrano features two traditional Spanish cold soups, gazpacho and ajo blanco, which is a white garlic-almond soup.
“I feel like gazpacho is the perfect soup, because it covers all the vegetables,” Serrano said. “You can eat it chunky, and in Spain, the bread and the tomatoes are in big pieces.”
In his restaurant, Serrano makes a gazpacho that’s a little less chunky, in keeping with American tastes.
“It’s very refreshing,” he said.
One thing that’s important with a cold soup, Serrano noted, is that it’s well chilled.
“It’s very important that it’s very cold,” he said, “so all the flavors are coming out. Serve it right out of the refrigerator.”
LoRusso said garnishes add another element.
“Whatever kind of cold soup you do, I think it’s important to have garnish in there as well,” he said. “Nuts and crabmeat work out great.”
But in the end, they said, don’t overthink it.
“Don’t do too much,” Mawhew said. “Don’t overwork it. Make it simple. Stack a few flavors on top of each other and that’s it.”
WHITE GARLIC SOUP (or AJO BLANCO)
3 to 4 slices baguette or other white bread, slightly dried
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 ounces (1/2 cup) blanched, peeled almonds
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or more, to taste)
3 to 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or more, to taste)
Halved green or red grapes, to taste
Soak bread in 3 to 4 cups water.
Place garlic and almonds in food processor and puree until smooth. Squeeze water from bread (reserving water) and add bread to processor. Blend until smooth.
While processor is running, trickle in olive oil and vinegar. Add reserved water until desired consistency is achieved, then add salt, vinegar and oil, to taste.
Chill at least two to three hours, until thoroughly cold. Place grapes in soup and serve.
— Recipe from Review-Journal files
GAZPACHO WITH LEMON-GARLIC SHRIMP
1 (10-ounce) container grape tomatoes, divided
1 1/2 cups sliced English cucumber, divided
1 cup diced red bell pepper, divided
3/4 cup diced Vidalia or other sweet onion, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 garlic cloves
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 8 ounces)
Cut eight grape tomatoes into quarters. Combine quartered tomatoes, 1/4 cup cucumber, 1/4 cup bell pepper and 1/4 cup onion in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine remaining grape tomatoes, remaining 1 1/4 cups cucumber, remaining 3/4 cup bell pepper, remaining 1/2 cup onion, 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic cloves and canned tomatoes in a food processor; pulse until almost smooth or until desired consistency. Refrigerate 25 minutes.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, juice, minced garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and shrimp in a medium bowl. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally.
Place about 1 cup soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 5 shrimp and 1/4 cup cucumber mixture.
— Recipe from Cooking Light magazine
WATERMELON GAZPACHO WITH FETA CREMA
1 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
1 large beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
1 English hothouse cucumber, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Crema and assembly:
1/4 cup almonds
2 ounces feta, preferably French sheep’s milk, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1/2 English hothouse cucumber, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Olive oil (for serving)
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Freshly ground black pepper
For gazpacho, puree watermelon, tomato, cucumber, jalapeno, oil and vinegar in a blender until smooth.
Transfer gazpacho to a large bowl; season with kosher salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving. (Gazpacho can be made one day ahead. Keep chilled.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can do this step in a dry small skillet over medium heat.) Let almonds cool, then coarsely chop.
Mash feta into sour cream in a small bowl until mostly smooth, then whisk in milk.
Divide watermelon and cucumber among bowls and pour gazpacho over. Top with crema and almonds, drizzle with oil, and season with sea salt and pepper. (Crema can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill.)
—Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine
COLD AVOCADO SOUP WITH CILANTRO OIL
1 fresh or frozen ear of corn, shucked
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups chopped white onion, divided
1 fresh serrano chili, stemmed and coarsely chopped (including seeds)
2 firm-ripe California avocados (1 to 1 1/4 pounds total)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup crema or sour cream
For cilantro oil:
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Roast corn on rack of gas burner over high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until kernels are charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a dry well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and roast corn over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.) Transfer corn to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cob with a sharp knife, then cut cob into thirds.
Bring kernels, cob pieces, 4 cups water, garlic, salt and 1/2 cup onion to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan and boil until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, uncovered. Discard cob pieces.
Puree corn mixture along with chili and remaining 3/4 cup onion in a blender, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids. Return broth to cleaned blender.
Quarter, pit and peel 1 avocado, then add to blender with 2 tablespoons lime juice and puree until smooth. Transfer soup to a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Cover entire bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least one hour.
Prepare cilantro oil while soup chills: Puree cilantro, oil and salt in cleaned blender, scraping down sides of blender several times. Pour oil into cleaned fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and let drain 15 minutes (do not press on solids). Discard solids.
To assemble soup, halve and pit remaining avocado and scoop small balls from flesh with melon-ball cutter, then toss gently with remaining tablespoon lime juice in a bowl.
Whisk together crema and remaining 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth.
Season soup with salt and ladle into 6 shallow soup bowls. Divide avocado balls among bowls, then drizzle with crema and cilantro oil.
Notes: Soup can be chilled up to one day. Cilantro oil can be made three hours ahead and chilled, covered.
— Recipe from Gourmet magazine
4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
Fresh lavender, for garnish (optional)
Stir together blueberries, lemonade concentrate and 1/2 cup cold water in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, stir in dried lavender and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until blueberries burst. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract.
Press mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl, using back of a spoon to squeeze out juice. Discard pulp. Stir in yogurt.
Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.
Makes 5 cups.
— Recipe adapted from Southern Living
Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Find more of her stories at www.reviewjournal.com and bestoflasvegas.com and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.