Cold soups for hot days

Cold soups for hot days

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

On a hot summer’s day, with a big thirst and little appetite for a heavy meal, a dinner that can be thrown together in minutes without the bother of switching on the oven or stove comes as a great relief. Many Europeans choose to beat the heat with tasty cold soups that come together in a matter of minutes. Cold soup might sound a bit odd at first; just think of it as a kind of smoothie with tasty bits of seasonal vegetables thrown in!

Recipes tend to reflect the tastes of a region, and it might take some experimentation before striking upon a soup that knocks your socks off. Depending on personal preference, you may wish to adjust the quantities of liquid, and of course, you can always sub in and out ingredients depending on what you’ve got on hand. Hurray for fresh and simple!

Spain: Salmorejo

In contrast to its better-known cousin gazpacho, this orange-colored soup is thick, creamy and contains bread. Ripe tomatoes and a high-quality olive oil are the keys to success of this dish that traces its roots to Córdoba.

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 3 to 4

Ingredients

8 medium-sized tomatoes

2 cups soft white bread from a baguette, crusts removed

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar can also be used)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 hard-boiled eggs

1 cup Serrano ham or similar, chopped

Instructions

Remove tomato skins, either by the traditional method of scoring their bottoms and placing them in boiling water for 30 seconds or by microwaving them for 20 to 30 seconds.

Remove cores and blend tomatoes in a blender or food processor at high speed for 30 seconds or until the tomatoes have been thoroughly blended.

Tear the soft white bread into small pieces and add to the tomato mix.

Allow the bread to soak in the tomato juice for about 5 minutes.

Add the peeled clove of garlic, salt and vinegar and blend once again.

Through the small opening atop the blender, slowly pour in the olive oil while blending the mixture at medium speed.

Add one of the peeled hard-boiled eggs and blend again. Taste and adjust flavors accordingly.

Serve cold in small bowls topped with chopped ham and crumbled hard-boiled eggs.

(This recipe was adapted from Spanish Sabores.)

Eastern Europe: Kholodnik

This cold beet soup, also known as Svekolnik, is claimed by Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. The beets make it sweet, the kefir adds tang and fresh dill gives it an herby kick.

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 2 to 3

3 or 4 medium to large red beets, pre-cooked, peeled and vacuum packed

4 small cucumbers

2 cups kefir

4 hard-boiled eggs, diced

2 to 3 bunches green onions, chopped

1 bunch dill, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop the hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers and dill. Place the beets and kefir in a blender; blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl; add chopped onions, eggs and dill. Some variations of this recipe call for chopped radish and chopped potatoes. To kick up the flavor, add a spoonful of sugar and a squeeze of lemon.

(This recipe was adapted from Verokina’s kitchen.)

Bulgaria: Tarator

This cold cucumber soup, popular throughout many parts of the Balkans, also has many regional variations.

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 2

1 long thin cucumber, peeled and diced thinly

1 clove finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground sea salt

1 tablespoon chopped dill

2 cups of thick yogurt, preferably Bulgarian, but Turkish or Greek works too

1/2 cup cold water

1/4 cup crushed walnuts

Combine all ingredients except the walnuts in a large bowl and stir well.

Dry roast the crushed walnuts until golden brown.

Pour the soup into bowls and top with walnuts to serve.

(This recipe was adapted from Compass & Fork)

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