I'm a bit of a soup fiend, so I devour it year round, even when temperatures spike. My secret? Instead of tucking in to a piping hot brothy bowl, I turn to luxuriously creamy chilled soups in warm weather, which provide much needed internal air conditioning. Additionally, all of these cool creations can be made ahead (excluding garnish) and enjoyed throughout the week; as an added bonus, in many cases the flavors bloom and mellow when sent to the fridge to chill out overnight.
I'm an unabashed lover of all meaty treats. Succulent duck confit, planks of unctuous bone marrow, quivering pork belly: I greedily devour them all. That said, I think of these deeply savory foods as the punctuation to my everyday diet rather than the staples. An average day finds me spooning up oatmeal, munching on nuts, and supping on salads of zesty tomatoes and burrata cheese.
Some might describe my predilection to limit my meat consumption as flexitarianism; I prefer to think of it as practical, because, as tempting as it is, a diet based on meat is far from environmentally sound (or nutritionally balanced for that matter). It came as no surprise that I was drawn to Arthur Potts Dawson's new cookbook, Eat Your Vegetables, a beautifully photographed tome bolstering the movement to eat less meat.
While many of the recipes contained within its pages are vegetarian-friendly, others are liberally garnished with beef, bacon, or salty anchovies. Dawson may be an outspoken ambassador for the oft-forgotten fruits of the garden, but is quick to mention that he too enjoys the occasional steak. Rather than focus on the asceticism of a vegetable-based diet, his cookbook celebrates the vast variety of foods spouting forth from the garden, and many dishes would appeal to all but the most staunch carnivore.
The heat wave has (sort of) made its way to San Francisco, and for the first time in longer than I can remember, I am craving fresh, raw produce. After making three batches of scones last week, I've surpassed my dairy quota and sought a way to make a creamy, satisfying chilled soup, sans cream or milk.
Summer corn is sweet and tender when eaten raw. To make use of its seasonal height, I juiced corn kernels and made a milky soup starter. When blended with avocado, this soup develops a thick creaminess, plus the avocado imparts a mighty green hue. The salsa garnish provides a contrasting crunch, and the lump crab meat is a salty little bonus (however, it's also easy to leave out for vegetarians). All in all, the recipe is quick to prep and serve, keeping you and your kitchen cool when it's boiling outside. See the recipe for the chilled corn and avocado soup now.
It goes without saying that summertime is salad time, but when the mercury rises, I actually prefer to sip my salad. After all, what could be more refreshing than a bracing shooter of chilled gazpacho?
At this year's Aspen Food & Wine Classic, José Andrés demonstrated how to make his wife's gazpacho. "This is the best salad in the history of mankind. When you drink everything, life is so much better!" José exclaimed to the audience. He proceeded to serve the soup with a shot of gin for a Spanish Bloody Mary of sorts.
Don't omit the Oloroso sherry and sherry vinegar from this authentic Andalucían recipe; it adds a long, lingering finish to every spoonful. For the recipe, keep reading.