Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cooling summer soups

 Lordie, isn’t it hot? And there’s nothing better on a hot summer evening than dinner with a cool salad main course. But it can be tough, if you’re entertaining, to come up with an appropriate first course when salad is the dinner. Personally, I love a cold soup in the summer. For some it takes a bit of getting used to; I have friends who think the only good soup is a hot soup! But I think if you try it, you’ll agree that it’s a refreshing and delicious first course.

I’ve chosen two soups with the nuevo latino influence I've been sort of stuck on lately. Neither takes any cooking and either can be prepared in a jiffy with the aid of a food processor or blender. Whip them up in the morning, or even the night before, so they can chill well. Or just keep them in the fridge for a quick refreshing pick-me-up when you come in from the heat!


8 cups diced, seeded watermelon (from half a large melon)
½ cup almond meal*
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices firm white bread, torn into chunks
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp kosher or coarse sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup cilantro, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

Reserve one cup of the diced watermelon. Purée remaining melon with almond flour, garlic and bread. Blend until smooth. Add vinegar, lime juice, salt and a couple of grindings of pepper. With the processor on, add the olive oil in a thin stream, blending until smooth. You may have to do this in two batches. Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl and stir in reserved melon dice. Chill well. Serve in wine or martini glasses rimmed with salt (add a little chili powder to the salt if you like). Sprinkle with the cilantro and garnish each serving with a lime wedge. Serves 6-8 as a first course soup.

*Available at gourmet markets and most natural food stores


1 large cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and diced
½ to 1 jalapeño, with seeds and veins removed, diced
1 cup water
1/3 cup light rum (optional)
Juice and zest of two large limes
1 tbsp minced cilantro, plus more for garnish

Place all ingredients except lime zest and cilantro garnish in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl. Stir in lime zest and refrigerate covered until very cold. Serve in wine glasses, or flat soup plates, sprinkled with additional finely minced cilantro. Serves 6-8 as a first course soup.
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