OK, so maybe it’s more like orange, white, and purple…
Still, this will be the healthy and delicious centerpiece of our July 4th celebrations, or at least the eating part of the holiday. This are three chilled soups, all made with just-picked fruits or vegatables from…you guessed it, the FARMERS MARKET!
The first is a classic: Gazpacho. I’ve written about it before in this blog (click here for the original post). When I posted my 2020 version, I was following the recipe of J. Kenji López-Alt, who is one of my go-to sources of recipes because he explains the science of why some recipes taste better than others. However, this time I used a recipe from the New York Times Cooking site, which I think I can’t link to for readers who don’t have a subscription to the Times like I do. But you can try! It’s at: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017577-best-gazpacho.
In terms of ingredients, this recipe by Julia Moskin, one of the long-time staff reporters for NYT Cooking, is pretty similar to Kenji’s. However, Moskin foregoes adding bread to thicken the soup, and instead adds oil to emulsify it. That sounded interesting, so I thought I would give it a try, especially for my gluten-free friends (and fans).
I love this soup because I could get all the core ingredients from the Cary Downtown Farmers Market. I used big red tomatoes from Parker Farm, roma tomatoes from Well Fed Community Garden, and different varieties of cherry tomatoes from them both. I also used a couple of shishito peppers from Well Fed Community Garden. The onion and cucumber were from LB’s Farm, and the elephant garlic I used was from Bell Farm. All of these are local farmers who use organic-ish practices, so I knew everything was very fresh and uncontaminated by pesticides.
Look how beautiful it all looks:
The chopping is the biggest work with this soup. Next I liquified it using my immersion blender.
You can see that it looks pretty liquid at this point. The magic comes from emulsifying it by slowly adding a little vinegar and a good bit of oil. By pouring in tiny bits while the blender is going, it binds the ingredients together. This is the same process that turns liquid eggs into the creamy spread we call mayonnaise. So this is how it looks after I had emulsified the oil:
See? Magic. What was a watery vegetable drink becomes a soup! The Times recommends straining out all the leftover vegetable bits for a silky smooth soup, but I know the skins have most of the vitamins and fiber so I left them in, opting for health over optimal texture. I put the batch into the refrigerator to chill into the cold vegetable soup we recognize as gazpacho.
The Times also recommended serving them in shot glasses, which I think is a brilliant idea if you have a July 4 crowd coming. We don’t have a crowd, and we don’t have shot glasses. However, I am using their idea in that I’m serving the soup in small wine glasses, because the soup is eminently sippable.
Can you guess what’s in the white soup? I really wanted it to be white, and I really wanted it to be made from fresh local produce. But what white vegetables are there in the farmers markets these days? you might ask. Any ideas…
The second soup is actually made from fresh, super sweet, super white corn! Apparently I didn’t take any pictures while making this soup, maybe because I was kind of making up the recipe on the fly. I hadn’t originally thought of this when I went shopping, but had the bright idea to try it using what I had on hand.
I had three ears of this wonderful white corn from a local farm. I cut off the kernels and squeezed out what corn milk I could. Then I chopped the cobs into bits and submerged them into about two cups of salted water. I let that boil down to about one cup, which took maybe 15 minutes? I added a cup of milk and cooked that together at a lower heat for a while to get the milk and water to blend. Then I took out the cobs and put in the corn kernels for just a minute or so because I didn’t want to overcook them. Once again, I used the immersion blender to blend them to as liquid-ish form that I could, given that once again I didn’t want to just throw away all that corn fiber. Then into the refrigerator it went.
This one I tasted before the meal because I was just winging the recipe. But you know what? It was SO GOOD! What it really tastes like is a corn milkshake. It’s SO sweet, but honestly I didn’t add any sugar; it’s just that the corn itself is so sweet. It’s definitely pulpy, but that makes the milk/water blend feel more like ice cream or a milkshake to me. I’m really happy with how well that turned out.
The last soup, as you might guess, is cold blueberry soup, made from organic blueberries from Altar Cross Farm bought at the Cary Downtown Farmers Market. Now, I have to say, I looked up a bunch of recipes for blueberry soup, and many of the American recipes just had blueberries and MORE sugar blended into yogurt. How, may I ask, is that soup? It’s just extra-sugary yogurt in my book.
However, it seems like this is more of a tradition in Scandanavian and Eastern European countries. I ended up basing mine on a recipe from Food.com for Czech Chilled Blueberry Soup, apparently called Boruvkova Polevka Studena in its native language (https://www.food.com/recipe/chilled-czech-blueberry-soup-boruvkova-polevka-studena-169532). I chose that one because I went to a FANTASTIC performance of Dvorak’s New World Symphony at the NC Symphony’s Summerfest series Friday night, and I wanted to recognize Dvorak’s Czech heritage for someone who wrote such an American-sounding symphony.
So basically I boiled 2 cups of blueberries in 4 cups of water with a pinch of salt and maybe a couple of teaspoons of Penzey’s delicious and intense cinnamon (I didn’t add any sugar). I smashed the blueberries as they cooked, but eventually blended them with my immersion blender so that they looked like this:
Then I added 2 cups of plain unsweetened Greek yogurt, blended that in, and cooked it at a lower heat until it thickened a bit:
Once that was done, I added another cup of raw blueberries into the soup and popped it in the fridge.
Tasting it as I went along, it’s not super sweet, certainly not as sweet as the corn soup. But it is more on the sweet side than the savory side. The spicy cinnamon helps to keep it from tasting like dessert.
I’m not sure exactly what all else we will have for our 4th of July meal; we do have some leftover bagels at least. But I’m so excited to have these three delicious and nutrious cold soups to rely on, not just for this meal, but for the week to come. Because it’s getting hot here in North Carolina, so it’s wonderful to have a healthy alternative to ice cream to cool off.