Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hot Or Cold?

What feelings does the word "soup" arouse in you?  Mostly, I think of warm soup on a cold day, the hot liquid sliding down to warm my whole being from the stomach outward. My mother was not so limited in her views of soup - she loved cold soups, too, especially during a heat wave such as we had here last weekend.

Vichyssoise was her favorite. She made it as smooth as fine silk and served it in elegant little bowls as a first course. She also made a rather strange gazpacho, which I only learned to love when I had a more authentic version years later. But, when I describe my favorite of her cold soups, normally I get a shiver of disgust from my listeners. Jellied chicken soup isn't for everyone.

Mom made jellied chicken soup by cooking the bejaysus out of a chicken carcass along with some aromatic veggies such as carrot and onion. It simmered for hours on the stove, until the gelatin in the bones seeped into the soup. She strained the soup carefully, added back in the shreds of chicken meat picked from the bones, and chilled it until the fat rose to the top and could be scraped off and discarded. Served cold, it made loose, silky mounds of soup similar in texture to crême caramel or very soft tofu, dotted with chicken pieces throughout. With each slurpy spoonful, the heat of the day seemed to dissipate by a couple of degrees. It wasn't pretty, but it was Essence of Chicken and very welcome on a hot day. I can hear you shuddering now; all I can say is don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

Having a surfeit of tomatoes in the garden (yaay!) and a hot weekend on tap, when I saw this recipe for roasted tomato and garlic soup from David Lebovitz, I was intrigued. It looked perfect for a hot late summer day and I already had corn salad in the fridge. I did a few things differently, such as adding a quarter of an onion to the tomatoes and garlic while they roasted and serving it cold, but otherwise my soup was the same. 

I roasted the tomatoes, garlic and onion early in the day, while it was still cool, then simmered the soup for about 20 minutes before letting it cool, blending it with my stick blender, and stashing it in the fridge to chill completely.

My corn salad was from Roli Roti, who sells chickens at our farmer's market with little paper tubs of corn salad if you like - and we usually do!  The corn salad is vaguely Mexican in flavor with a little mild jalapeño amongst the corn, red onion, cilantro, and avocado, and I thought it would be perfect in the soup, so I added a hefty spoonful to each bowl before serving it out on the deck where we might catch a breeze.

It got enthusiastic approval from My Beloved - he was nodding and smiling as he spooned up his soup. We admired its beauty as well as its interesting textures. The corn was still a little crisp and the soup was velvety. The colors are deep and lovely. And the flavors of garden-ripe tomatoes and garlic were made for each other. 

If I don't have enough tomatoes from my own plant, I'm going to purchase extras at the farmer's market to make more of this soup for the freezer. I think it would be as lovely served hot on a chilly winter day as it was served cold during our brief heat wave.


Blogger Namastenancy said...

I could use some of that cool soup today. The weather is weird, muggy and warm like it's going to rain, but it doesn't. I wonder if some weather front is moving in because my sinuses are not happy. My grandmother used to make cold fruit soup = a puree of berries that we ran though her ancient food mill. I think they were thinned with water, cream and a little bit of sugar. She was born in 1893, so she was pre the no-sugar days. I don't know where she would have picked up the idea of using fruit for soup

Wednesday, September 11, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, yes, it started out cool but got warm and muggy in the afternoon. I made some of this soup for the freezer. Maybe I should thaw it for dinner.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013  

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