When school starts, most people feel summer is over and thoughts of fall come to mind. However, the extreme heat we experience everyday let’s us know that the weather is not fall made yet.

After a long hot school day, football practices or outside work, a cold soup might just hit the spot. How often have you heard “It’s too hot to eat.”

Cold soups can be made with almost any ingredients. IT can be a pre-meal dish to cool you off, a dessert or even the meal itself. They are more versatile than their warmer relatives which definitely say fall and winter, warm and hearty.

Some cold soups have been around for some time. Vichyssoise was first created in 1917. A potato and leek concoction, it an also be served hot.

Gazapacho is a Spanish soup made of vegetables and bread and was quite popular in restaurants a number of years ago.

Borscht is a beet-based soup. There are as many ways to make it as there are ways to spell it, probably more. Originally Ukrainian (not Russian as many people think) it, too, can be served hot or cold. However, it is not as popular in the U,S, as in Europe.

Cold soups like cucumber and those made with fruits are ore popular today than the old ones that are too hard to pronounce or spell. They have become the new trendy specialty menu items on many upscale restaurants.

Cucumber was first created in 1973 and has many variations today. Add avocado to the dish is especially popular.

I had a delicious cold tomato-basil soup several years ago which was the most popular item on the lunch menu at that tea room.

Cantaloupe was a chef favorite in Boston when I visited there, and blueberry was the latest addition to the menu.

If you have never tried cold soup, you have missed a treat. You don’t have to be a soup-aholic to enjoy these recipes. If you are, then you have probably already enjoyed them.

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup

1 cantaloupe - peeled, seeded and cubed

2 cups orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe.

Place cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a blender or food processor; cover, and process until smooth. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lime juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with mint if desired.

Chilled Blueberry Soup

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 3/4 cups water

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick

1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate

Sour cream

In a large saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add blueberries and cinnamon stick; return to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in orange juice concentrate until melted. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Discard cinnamon stick. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Tomato-Basil Soup

1 28-oz. can of peeled tomatoes (or 4 lbs. fresh tomatoes, peeled, cut up into a cup of water)

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, rubbed between your palms

salt and fresh ground pepper

6 leaves of fresh basil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

Garnish: 2 fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded and cut into bite-sized cubes--and 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, minced.

Cut the tomatoes cup in a saucepan with either their juice (if canned) or the water. Stir in the oregano, fresh basil, about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and all the onion; bring to a boil; then reduce heat to medium high and cook, stirring, for about 25 minutes. Make sure the tomatoes don't burn on the bottom.

Puree, then return mixture to pan and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, and more pepper to taste. Let cool.

When ready to serve, stir in the cream, and fold in the tomato chunks. Taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls. Top with a sprinkle of minced, fresh basil.

Cucumber Soup

2 cucumbers

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

2 tablespoons margarine

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4 cups chicken broth

salt to taste

1/8 tablespoon dried tarragon and/or dried dill

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Peel, seed, and chop 2 cucumbers.

Cook the chopped scallions in the margarine until soft. Add the chopped cucumbers and the wine vinegar. Pour in the broth. Salt to taste, and add tarragon (and or dill). Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, or until the cucumbers are soft.

Put the soup into a blender, and puree it.

Pour the puree into a bowl, and whisk in the sour cream. Taste the soup for seasoning. Pour the soup into bowls, and garnish with cucumber slices and chopped parsley.

— Judy O’Daniel’s “Country Gourmet” column appears in the Times-Journal week day editions.

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