Summer soups

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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One of the few things I miss about winter is having a steaming bowl of satisfying soup at least three times a week. When I figured out that I could enjoy soup just as much in July and August — with a couple of minor adjustments — it was a revelation and a relief.

Fresh Basil and Pea

Summer in a bowl, this easy soup is perfect with salad for lunch or as a first course on a warm evening. You can serve it chilled if you like — a great make-ahead idea for a party — but it’s so light the warmth seems to bring together your insides and your outsides without being overwhelming.

This amount will serve 6 generously, but as a small cup to start the meal you can easily get 10 or 12 servings. It’s also delicious the next day, reheated or chilled.

1 large bunch fresh basil, stalks and leaves, divided

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

6 green onions, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 lbs. frozen peas

1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, regular or low-fat

1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

Cut the leaves off the basil stalks and set them aside. Add the whole stalks — don’t chop them up — to butter in a heavy-bottomed pot and fry for a minute. Add green onions and cook until they are soft but not brown. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in broth and peas and simmer together a few minutes. Fish out and discard the basil stalks. Stir in sour cream and pepper and puree in a blender or food processor. Return soup to pot and heat through gently. Chop the reserved basil leaves finely and stir them in. Taste for salt, add a pinch or two if needed, and serve.

Chipotle, Black Bean and Coconut

The hot parts of the world know very well the benefits of spicy food when the temperature soars. We think hot stuff makes us hotter, but it ain’t so.

If you like curry dishes and Mexican food, you will go crazy for the flavour punch delivered by this fusion soup. It gets better as it ages so make it up to two days in advance for an easy, yet special, first course. This recipe is vegan unless you use chicken broth but the six people to whom you serve it won’t care unless they are, too.

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large bunch fresh cilantro, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, grated

2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. each ground cinnamon and cloves

2 or 3 canned chipotle peppers, minced, with 1 tsp. of adobe sauce from the can

1 large can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk, regular or reduced fat

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lime for serving

Fry onion and carrot in olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until they are soft but not brown. Cut the stalks off the cilantro, reserving the leaves, and mince stalks finely. Add cilantro stalks along with garlic and ginger and cook another minute, until fragrant. Stir in cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cloves and cook together until the spices completely coat the vegetables.

Add chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, black beans, coconut milk, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, half covered, for 20 minutes. If you would like a creamy as opposed to brothy consistency, take out a cupful or so of the beans and mash them with a fork; return to pot. If you want a completely creamy soup bring out the blender.

Coarsely chop cilantro leaves and stir into soup at the last minute. Serve with lime wedges at the table.

Cod, Corn and Broccoli

This is a summer lunch in a bowl. All you need is a crusty roll or a crisp salad and you can serve company — up to 6 of them.

3 large yellow-fleshed potatoes, diced

1 small onion, minced

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 can evaporated skim milk

1 cup chicken broth or water

2 lbs. fresh or thawed cod, cut into large chunks

1 lb. broccoli florets, cut into small pieces

2 cups frozen corn kernels

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fry potatoes and onion in oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until a couple of brown bits are showing around the edges. Add evaporated milk and chicken broth and simmer together, covered, 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Gently stir in cod, broccoli and corn and bring back up to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes or until fish flakes and is opaque in the middle. Add salt and pepper — you may need a little more salt depending on how much was in the broth. If you want a thicker chowder-style soup then mash enough of the potatoes to get the consistency you like. Serve at once.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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