My Soup Is Cold

And that's how I like it

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Urban Renewal

by Gay Lyons

I was introduced to gazpacho by my Spanish teacher and to vichyssoise by my French teacher. I'm not fluent in either language, but I still love those soups. Some people don't get cold soups. â“Soup is supposed to be served hot,â” they say. I disagree. Cold soup is greatâ"especially in the summer.

I first made vichyssoise (cold leek and potato soup) using Julia Child's recipe. This tasty one from Glorious French Food is similar to hers.

Cut off all but two inches of greens from four leeks. Cut the roots off and whittle away the green layers on the other end, exposing the white in the center. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse them thoroughly under running water. Slice thinly. Peel and thinly slice a pound of medium potatoes. Combine the leeks and potatoes with 4 and a half cups of water, milk or chicken broth and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Let the soup cool for a bit. Then either puree the soup in a blender (in small batches) for a few seconds or push it through a food mill or strainer. Don't over-puree or the soup will become sticky. Stir in a half cup to a cup of whipping cream and bring the soup back to a simmer. I find that half a cup is plenty, but if you like soups really creamy, add more cream. Chill the soup by putting the pot in a bowl of ice. Stir frequently until the soup has cooled somewhat. Let it cool for about an hour and then refrigerate for at least six hours. Before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper. Put a pinch of chives on top of each serving.

Gourmet's Fresh , a cookbook put together by Gourmet magazine a few years ago, has a fabulous recipe for chilled curried squash soup that's great to make while summer squash is plentiful.

Trim one leek (white and pale green parts only) and thinly slice enough of the leek to measure a half-cup. Wash the leeks in a bowl of cold water and then drain and rinse. Thinly slice three large yellow squashesâ"about a pound and a half for those who measure by weight. In a four-quart heavy saucepan, cook the leeks in a teaspoon of olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add a teaspoon of curry powder (or a little more if you like curry as much as I do) and a fourth teaspoon of turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrantâ"about 30 seconds. Add squash and four cups water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is very tenderâ"about 15 minutes. Cool the mixture and then puree in small batches in a blender for a few seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill the soup at least six hours or overnight. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of Major Grey's chutney.

Gazpacho is my favorite cold soup. When I was pregnant, I especially craved it. In the early stages of labor, I ate a big bowl of it at a restaurant I really missâ"the Bahou Container, which was located in Homberg Place 20-plus years ago. Over the years I have collected recipes from my gazpacho-making friends. Rebekah Robertson's recipe calls for sautéed mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, celery, cucumbers and parsley jazzed up with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper, garlic, tarragon vinegar and tomato juice. It's delicious, but if you like your gazpacho quick and easy, Kay Newton's recipe can't be beat. And if you're the only one in your household who likes gazpachoâ"as I amâ"it makes the perfect amount: four servings. Give it a try as soon as you can get your hands on some freshly picked tomatoes.

Peel and quarter four ripe tomatoes and chop a clove of garlic. Cut half of a green pepper and half of an onion into chunks. Add a half teaspoon salt and a quarter teaspoon pepper, two tablespoons of olive oil, three tablespoons red wine vinegar and a half cup of iced water. Mix in a blender for a very short time. Don't pulverize it. You want to leave some chunks. Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.   

How about cold soup for dessert? This refreshing melon soup from cooks.com makes an easy ending for a summer supper.

Puree three cups chopped cantaloupe and three cups chopped honeydew melon with one cup orange juice and one third cup lime juice. Stir in two cups of club sodaâ"or substitute champagne for part of that--and chill several hours. Garnish with mint leaves.

Cold soups are perfect when entertaining because they are best made ahead of time. While the soup is chilling, the flavors are blending. The soups can be served in bowls or you can go for a different presentation. Little glasses of gazpacho are snazzy on a cocktail buffet. Melon soup is attractive served in margarita or martini glasses. Get in the summertime spirit. Throw a few things in a blender, and chill.

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