Recipes for Chilled Summer Soups

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Think it's crazy to toss down a brimming bowl of soup in August? Anne Vassal doesn't.

MOTHER’s Kitchen column shares recipes for chilled summer soups.

When I was growing up in Michigan, it was tough to beat the
summer heat. Neither our house nor our car was
air-conditioned because back then it seemed only rich
people could afford to be sweat less. Then our grandparents
installed an air conditioner in their bedroom, which
motivated us to drop in more often. My sister and I would
run up the stairs and throw ourselves down on the cool bed,
exhaling a sigh of relief. If our grandmother ever minded
our sweaty, smelly bodies on her white bedding she never
expressed it. After we cooled down, we’d return downstairs
to the screened-in porch to lounge on the rattan furniture
where our grandmother would bring us freshly squeezed
lemonade and homemade cookies. Warm breezes and cold drinks
made the time pass too quickly until sunset forced our
departure.

My summers continue to remain the same. You can find me
lounging in a lawn chair under a shady tree with a large
pile of cooking magazines. I’ll be drinking iced herbal tea
with mint and munching on fresh fruit. You won’t see me
swimming laps or chasing after tennis balls. An occasional
bike ride will fill my exercise quota. This is why I like
to make light and easy soups using garden produce. I
prepare the soups early in the morning so that the rest of
the day is free. I don’t mind eating them a few days
consecutively served with a vegetable sandwich or salad. So
cook light with recipes for chilled summer soups, keep cool and enjoy the summer’s produce.

Minty Cuke Soup Recipe

I love this chilled soup
on a steamy, hot day, and it takes only minutes to make. If
you don’t have chives or mint in your garden, try dill or
cilantro.

Put into a blender:
1 cup unsalted chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3 small cucumbers, peeled
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup mint leaves (no stems)
2 large cloves, peeled and mashed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 – 4 drops hot sauce

Blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. Whisk in:
2 cups plain yogurt

Chill for at least two hours. Serve cold topped with the optional toppings:
Chopped green or yellow pepper
Chopped cucumber
Chopped tomato
Chopped chives

Blueberry Soup Recipe

Another easy, low-fat soup that’s best eaten the same day. If you do have some
leftover, whisk before eating the following day.

In a blender put the following:
1 cup orange juice
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Blueberries and mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

Blend well. Chill about two hours. Garnish each bowl with a
few berries and a mint sprig.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup Recipe

This hot but light soup uses up some of those
red peppers in the garden and any herbs that you may want
to use up. I like to keep roasted red peppers on hand in a
plastic container for salads or sandwiches or lay them on a
cookie sheet and freeze them. They’ll keep in the
refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Roasted Red Peppers Recipe

Cut as many red peppers as you like into
quarters. Cut out the stems and seeds and place the peppers
skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place them under
the oven broiler about four to five inches from the heat
source. (You may have to stick a small metal baking pan
underneath the pepper pan.) Broil for about three or four
minutes, checking so they don’t get too black. When they’re
mostly blackened, remove from the oven and let cool. Leave
the skins on for storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
Peel off most of the blackened skin when ready to use.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white part only, rinsed and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper, seeded and chopped (or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
Freshly ground pepper
1 can (2 cups) unsalted chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3/4 – 1 cup water
1/2 cup skim ricotta cheese

Topping: Chop any of
these herbs or try a combination of basil, dill, chives,
oregano, thyme, Italian parsley.

Heat the oil in a
large saucepan, then add the onion and leek. Saute over
medium high heat for a few minutes until they’re softened,
stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic for about a minute,
then add the rest of the ingredients except the water and
cheese. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Pour into a
blender and blend until smooth, adding water until it is
the right consistency. (You may have to blend in batches,
putting the soup in a large bowl then both batches back
into the saucepan.) Blend in the ricotta cheese. Serve as
is or simmer on the stove just until hot. (Don’t let it
boil.) Serve with chopped herbs.

Gazpacho Soup Recipe

I first started making this chilled soup after my mother
gave me my first natural food cookbook back in the ’70s,
The Whole Earth Cookbook. This is a variation of
that recipe. Only tomatoes fresh from the garden will do.

1/2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, seeded (wear rubber gloves) and chopped
2 large cloves garlic
5 – 6 very ripe, medium tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup unsalted chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 medium poblano or green pepper, cut into a quarter-inch dice
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped into quarter-inch pieces (not too fat or the cucumber will have large seeds)
1 -2 tablespoons tomato paste

Possible toppings:
Green onion
Cilantro, parsley, chives
Lowfat yogurt

Fill a large saucepan three-quarters
full with water and bring to a boil. Insert the whole
tomatoes and turn off the heat. Let them set for about two
minutes until the skins have softened. Remove with a
slotted spoon and set aside to cool. When cool enough to
handle, remove the cores and skins of the tomatoes and chop
coarsely. I use a food processor because I don’t like large
chunks of tomato but you can also chop them into little
pieces by hand. Mince the jalapeno and garlic in the food
processor. Add all the ingredients up to and including the
ground pepper. Pulse the mixture until the tomatoes are in
little pieces but not pureed. Pour into a mixing bowl and
add the rest of the ingredients. Stir in the tomato paste,
adding more if the soup isn’t thick enough. Check to see if
you’d like more salt or hot pepper. Chill for a least one
hour and serve with toppings if you like.

Note: This soup
is best eaten the same day, but it can be made ahead of
time. I add the cucumber an hour or so before serving
because the salt extracts water from the cucumber and makes
the soup too watery.

Harvest Chili Recipe (Vegan)

Don’t let all the ingredients scare you–it’s really
ready in no time. Too much chili? Freeze some for a later
day.

1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in puree
I six-ounce can tomato paste
1 27-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
1 cup TVP *–optional
1 small eggplant, cut into a half-inch dice
3 medium sweet peppers, (red, green, or yellow) cut into a half-inch dice
3 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped into half-inch chunks
2 cups uncooked corn, cut off the cobs

Topping ideas:
yogurt or “lite” sour cream, grated cheddar or jack cheese,
chopped tomato, chopped red or green onion, cilantro.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the garlic,
jalapeno, and onions. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring
frequently, until the onion is limp. Add the rest of the
ingredients except the corn. Reduce heat to a simmer,
cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Check to see if there’s enough water, add the corn, and
continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the
vegetables are tender. Serve in bowls with an assortment of
toppings.

*Texturized vegetable protein (T.V.P.) is a high
protein meat substitute with a texture similar to
hamburger. The soy product can be purchased at most health
food stores.