Cooking

Summer produce shines in chilled soup

Photo by Emily Ryan Peach season is here! August is National Peach Month.

Photo by Emily Ryan, Peach season is here! August is National Peach Month.

By Emily Ryan, The Mercury

Think soup’s too hot for summer? Chill out with some cold ones, featuring the season’s freshest fruits and veggies.

“We’ve been making great chilled soups forever,” said Ted Pace, general manager of Brandywine Catering in Chadds Ford. “Gazpacho is probably our most favorite, but we do a lot of chilled fruit soups too.”

Think blueberry, cantaloupe and peach garnished with fresh mint for “color and fragrance.”

“Most of our chilled soups go through a cooking process at some point,” he explained. “When you take chilled stuff and just simply blend that together, you’re not going to get quite the same marrying of flavors than if you cook something.”

Photo by Emily Ryan for Digital First Media Plates of freshly picked tomatoes line a kitchen countertop.

Photo by Emily Ryan for Digital First Media Plates of freshly picked tomatoes line a kitchen countertop.

His exception: gazpacho, which Pace makes with tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber, garlic and cayenne.

At Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown, Brandon Hertzler’s version includes zucchini, onion and corn — first grilled, then pureed.

“I liked the change,” he said. “Home gardens are going to be having tons of zucchini and tomatoes.”

Hertzler also puts his spin on peach soup by adding carrots, coconut milk, curry, lime, ginger and orange juice, which “pulled out all of those flavors perfectly,” he described. “It’s awesome. It’s balanced. It has the curry and the heat in there.”

For a riff on the classic Italian appetizer prosciutto e melone, try his chilled cantaloupe basil soup topped with sautéed prosciutto.

“It’s definitely the sweetest of all of them,” said Hertzler, who’s teaching a soup class at the farm next month. “That’s the one I’m most excited for.”

Excited for summer entertaining? Impress guests with chilled-soup shooters. For a “cool look” they’ll love, fill a shallow container with ice and serve soup in shot glasses or “2-ounce plastic martini glasses,” Pace suggested.

And for something stronger, “I prefer my chilled soup with vodka,” he added with a laugh. “Gazpacho’s great. That’s a Bloody Mary almost. Just kidding.”

Chilled Peach Soup with Ginger

Hosting a party? Serve peach soup in shot glasses for a fun, festive look. Photo by Emily Ryan

Hosting a party? Serve peach soup in shot glasses for a fun, festive look. Photo by Emily Ryan

In this appetizer recipe, fresh, juicy peaches are blended with sweet elevated flavor of roasted carrot puree. The body of the soup thickened with tangy plain Greek yogurt and spiked with ginger and lime for a subtle Asian flavor.

Ingredients

2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

½-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

¾ cup plain Greek yogurt

¾ to 1 cup coconut milk (could use half-and-half or light cream if desired)

3 teaspoons fresh lime juice

12 to 15 freestone yellow peaches with skins removed; cut into ½-inch cubes.

¾ cup orange juice

Salt, to taste

A dash of cayenne pepper powder

1⁄8 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons of fresh mint, finely chopped

¾ cup sliced almonds or crumbled cashews, lightly toasted, for garnish

Instructions

Simmer carrot, ginger, and 1½ cups water in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer carrots and ginger to a blender, puree and allow to cool. Add all other ingredients; puree until smooth. Chill at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours before serving to allow flavors to develop. Garnish with almonds/crumbled cashews. Makes 8 servings.

RECIPE COURTESY OF BRANDON HERTZLER, WEAVER’S ORCHARD

Grilled-Vegetable Gazpacho

Classic gazpacho combines raw vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with red wine vinegar for a little kick. This recipe transforms the southern Spain dish by using grilled vegetables to add a deeper flavor layer while brightening it with a blend of vinegar, orange juice and lemon juice. Additionally, we will blend the soup longer than a traditional gazpacho.

Ingredients

3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 large red bell peppers, cored and quartered

2 large yellow bell peppers, cored and quartered

2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick

1 large homegrown candy onion, cut into 1/2-inch slabs

2 ears of homegrown bicolor corn, husked

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 medium homegrown tomatoes

2 cups tomato juice

½ cup fresh orange juice

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ cup chopped cilantro *if desired

2 English cucumbers with skin, 1½ cubed, ½ thinly sliced for garnish

Instructions

Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. Set aside to continue to cool.

Light a grill. Thread the garlic cloves onto a skewer. Lightly brush the garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, onion and corn with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic and let steam for 10 minutes. Allowing the peppers to steam will soften them, if you desire more texture in your gazpacho, feel free to skip this step.

Meanwhile, remove the garlic cloves from the skewers, peel them and transfer to a large bowl. Using a large serrated knife, cut the charred corn kernels into the bowl. Peel the peppers and add them to the bowl along with the zucchini, onion, cumin, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, tomato juice, orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar.

Working in batches, puree the vegetable mixture in a blender or food processor. Pour the gazpacho into a clean bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours, however the longer you allow to chill, the greater the flavor complexity will become.

Just before serving, stir the cilantro into the gazpacho if desired. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the cucumber and serve. Makes 10 servings

RECIPE COURTESY OF BRANDON HERTZLER, WEAVER’S ORCHARD

Chilled Cantaloupe Basil Soup with Prosciutto

This final dish transforms the popular Italian Prosciutto e Melone appetizer into a sweet, refreshing summer soup option.

Ingredients

2 cantaloupes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons Bragg apple cider vinegar

½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

4 tablespoons of basil, thinly sliced

Freshly grated hard Parmesan cheese to garnish

Instructions

Peel, remove seeds from both cantaloupes and cut into ½-inch chunks. Puree the cantaloupe chunks in a food processor until very smooth. Add apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, basil and sour cream/Greek yogurt, and pulse (or stir together) until thoroughly mixed, just 10 to 15 seconds or so. Pour into a serving bowl or pitcher and store in the refrigerator until the soup is well chilled, for at least 1 hour or overnight.

About 15 minutes before you’d like to serve the soup, sauté the prosciutto in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until crispy, about 7 minutes. Let it cool and then top each serving of soup. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

RECIPE COURTESY OF BRANDON HERTZLER, WEAVER’S ORCHARD

Chilled Peach Soup

Ingredients

4 peaches, peeled and sliced

1 cup white wine

1 cinnamon stick

2 tablespoons honey

½ lemon, juiced

1 cup plain yogurt

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, combine peaches, wine, cinnamon and cardamom; cook over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until peaches are soft (10 minutes). Remove peaches and let cool slightly. Reserve the liquid that the peaches were cooked in. Puree and add honey, lemon juice, yogurt and vanilla. Pulse until smooth. Add the reserved liquid to taste. Chill and serve with fresh mint. Yields 4 cups.

RECIPE COURTESY OF BRANDYWINE CATERING

Red Pepper Gazpacho

Ingredients

5 tomatoes, chopped

½ cucumber, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves

¼ cup water

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 avocado, diced

Instructions

Blend all ingredients, except avocado and parsley. Garnish with avocado and parsley. Refrigerate.

RECIPE COURTESY OF BRANDYWINE CATERING

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