Soup's on for summer.
Local chefs and foodies say that when preparing a delicious summer soup, the key is keeping it in season.
"Nature has a funny way of kind of making it all make sense and come together," said Joshua Safford, chef de cuisine at St. John's Restaurant. "If you use fresh, seasonal ingredients, let the natural food cycles dictate what's on the menu. Those ingredients are going to be the best and liven up your menu. Keep it light and simple."
Chilled soups, such as gazpachos or fruit-based soups, made tart with yogurt, work well for the season, as do lighter hot soups that utilize fresh vegetables. Leave the root vegetables, the chilis and the heavy bisques, for winter, when the bite of cold air makes a hearty, warming soup just the thing. Instead, try ingredients like asparagus, corn, bell peppers, cucumber and melon. Brighten up flavors with lemon or lime juice.
Lemon juice is a key ingredient in avgolemono, a Greek chicken broth-based soup made with egg yolks and rice.
At Table 2, on East 11th Street, the soup selection varies from week to week, according to Danny Parrish, the morning sous chef.
"A light, brothy type soup is what we usually do, or a cold soup, like a gazpacho," he said, "maybe a tomato or even a fruit gazpacho. Sometimes I make a leafy greens soup."
One signature soup at the restaurant combines both tomato and seasonal fruit: the heirloom tomato peach gazpacho, garnished with peach cucumber salsa.
Source: National Public Radio
Safford also emphasized the benefit of using spring and summer herbs, such as basil, to give a soup depth of flavor while still keeping it light. He also suggested using more seasonal ingredients to complement the primary flavor, especially to add to the body of the soup. Instead of cream, for example, try thickening a soup with a puree of spring or Vidalia onions.
"Use [the onions] to add a creaminess to the soup rather than actually adding cream, which is a heavier ingredient," he said. "Just use the ingredients naturally, and then putting other things that are in season into the soup that have mild flavors will help add body to the soup without weighing it down."
Contact Holly Leber at email@example.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber.
5 large ripe heirloom tomatoes (try the Cherokee Purple heirlooms for this soup)
3 ripe peaches
1/2 sweet onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (high quality)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop all ingredients; mix in a blender and strain. Let cool in a refrigerator. Garnish with peach cucumber salsa and aged balsamic vinegar.
2 peaches, diced
1 large cucumber, diced
1/4 cup of sweet onion, diced
5 large basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Table 2 Restaurant
2 bunches asparagus
4 quarts boiling water, for blanching
Ice-water bath, for blanching
10 medium-size basil leaves
10 medium-size mint leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cups white chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Peel asparagus from below the tips down. Blanch the asparagus by submerging in boiling water for 45 seconds, then transfer to the ice-water bath. When cooled, cut into 1-inch pieces, reserving some tips for garnish. Blanch the basil and mint leaves similarly, but for 30 seconds. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When foamy, add onion and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce by one-third. Lower heat to a simmer.
Add heavy cream, asparagus, basil and mint. Remove from heat. When cooled to room temperature, puree until smoothed in a blender. Adjust thickness with water if necessary.
When ready to serve, heat to just above a simmer. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and reserved asparagus tips.
- St. John's Restaurant
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 cups (1 quart) chicken broth
1/4 cup orzo pasta
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrots and garlic, then sauté until the onions and carrots are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the orzo and thyme, then cook for 6 minutes, or until the orzo is just tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice. Ladle out 1 cup of the broth and drizzle it into the eggs while whisking. Remove the saucepan from the heat. While whisking the broth and vegetables in the saucepan, slowly pour in the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.
Start to finish: 20 minutes. Servings: 4.
- The Associated Press
6 ears of fresh corn, husked (don't snap off the stalk; you'll need it as a handle)
2 leeks, white parts only
4 cups vegetable or light chicken stock
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped scallions or chives for garnish (optional)
Rub the husked ears of corn with a towel to remove the last silk threads. Grasping the stalk end, hold the cob pointing straight down in a large mixing bowl and cut off the kernels with a sharp knife. Set the kernels aside. Break the cobs in half and place them in a stockpot.
Halve the white part of the leeks lengthwise. Rinse them, peeling back the layers to get at any sand trapped between them. Chop them coarsely and add them to the stockpot with all of the remaining ingredients except the corn kernels. Add a little salt to taste. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes.
Remove cobs and bay leaf and discard. Taste the stock for seasoning. Then add corn kernels and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Using a blender set on high, puree the soup in batches and strain it through a fine strainer or sieve, discarding any fibrous solids. Chill at least 4 hours.
- National Public Radio
When does the honey go into this one?
About 2 cups leeks whites, cleaned and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons sweet butter
Salt, to taste
White ground pepper, to taste
1 to 3 bird's eye chilis, seeded and chopped (the amount depends on how hot you like your food)
4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
12 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus blanched and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups sugar snap peas
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 can coconut milk (if you want a richer soup you can add a cup of whipping cream as well)
2 tablespoons honey
Sauté leek whites in the butter, adding the salt and white pepper.
Add chopped chili and potatoes, and cover with boiling stock. Cook on medium boil until potatoes are soft.
Add the asparagus, peas and cilantro leaves with the coconut (and cream if using), and simmer 2 minutes.
Puree until smooth, thinning with stock if necessary.
Garnish with asparagus tips, julienne-cut snap peas and cilantro leaves.