Soups For Summer: Tangy, Cool And Easy

Posted: July 19, 1989

Light summer soups are nothing new. For centuries, Europeans have supped their way through hot, steamy days with soups made of whatever local produce was fresh and cheap.

Now, with the appearance of at least one summer soup on every restaurant

menu, Americans have made this culinary discovery - and love it.

There's no big secret to the preparation. In fact, light soups are quick and snappy. They require little or no cooking and are the perfect catchall for those fruits or vegetables that may be overripe and past their prime.

For fruit soups, you'll find that the addition of a tart juice such as lemon or lime only intensifies the flavor of each major ingredient so that strawberries, peaches and cherries all taste as they're supposed to. For a warm savory soup, a few fresh vegetables and herbs added to a broth are all that's needed.

Besides being served as a traditional first course, fruit soups make a no- fat snack or a beautiful dessert (if your diet can take the splurge, top with a dollop of softly whipped cream). We've also included a summer vegetable broth - a welcome change when you're tired of eating cold salads in an over- air-conditioned dining room.

CHUNKY BERRY SOUP

1 pint blueberries, picked over and washed

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 cup white grape juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

Place blueberries and strawberries, grape juice and lemon juice into a medium saucepan. Bring to a brisk boil over high heat. Remove from heat. Mix cornstarch and water to a smooth paste, and stir into berry mixture. Return to heat, and quickly bring to boil, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute. Sweeten to taste with sugar. Chill thoroughly, about four hours, before serving. Makes six servings.

SUMMER FRUIT GAZPACHO

1/2 honeydew melon, skin removed and cut into chunks (about 3 cups)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 scallion, cut into pieces

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 peach, stone removed and diced

2 plums, stones removed and diced

Place half the melon chunks and the lime juice, vinegar, scallion, basil, pepper and yogurt into a blender jar. Process at high speed for 15 to 20 seconds, or until smooth (stop blender and scrape mixture after 10 seconds). Add remaining honeydew, and process again at high speed for 10 seconds or until mixture is smooth. Pour into a bowl. Stir in prepared celery, peaches and plums. Chill. Stir before serving. Makes four to six servings.

APRICOT, PEACH AND RASPBERRY SOUP

1/4 cup orange marmalade

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups apricot nectar

3 apricots, stones removed and cut into chunks

2 peaches, stones removed and cut into chunks

1/2 pint raspberries

Place marmalade and lemon juice into a small saucepan. Warm over low heat to melt marmalade. Pour into a blender jar, and add apricot nectar, apricots and peaches. Cover, and process at high speed until smooth. Pour into a bowl, and stir in raspberries. Chill before serving. Makes four servings.

MINTED CANTALOUPE WITH VODKA

2 cups diced cantaloupe

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup vodka

2 cups white grape juice

Juice of 2 lemons

Mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Place cantaloupe and mint into a bowl, and pour vodka over. Marinate in the refrigerator for one hour. In a separate bowl, combine white grape juice and lemon juice. Stir in marinated cantaloupe and vodka. Garnish each serving with fresh mint. Makes four servings.

CHERRY WINE SOUP

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup currant jelly

3 cups apple juice

3 or 4 whole cloves or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 cups cherries, halved and stones removed

Place the wine, jelly, 2 1/2 cups of the apple juice and cloves into a medium saucepan. Stir, and warm over medium heat to melt jelly. Remove from heat. In separate small bowl, mix remaining half-cup of apple juice and the cornstarch to a smooth paste. Stir into wine mixture, and return to heat. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until thick and clear. Stir in cherries. Garnish with a spoonful of sour cream or vanilla yogurt if desired. Makes four to six servings.

FRESH CORN AND SNOW PEA BROTH

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn)

4 cups chicken broth

8 to 12 snow pea pods, strings removed

1/2 cup shredded arugula

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add diced onion, and cook until transparent.

Stir in corn, and cook over medium heat for one to two minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, and bring to boil. Add snow peas and arugula, and return broth to boil. Serve hot. Makes four to six servings.

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