There are moments in my life that I am performing the simplest of tasks when a memory from long ago flashes through my mind. ”Rinsing a bowl of raw egg under hot water will bake the egg onto the bowl” ~ My Uncle. As a teenager, I spent a summer vacation with relatives. My uncle was the influence in my interest in Italian Cuisine. This was where I learned many tips. One being the raw egg.
Another wonderful memory was being introduced to Vichyssoise. I had never had cold soup.
I had been invited to a friend’s home. I don’t recall the occasion, maybe a bridal shower, bon voyage…who knows. That was 40 + years ago.
It was my first visit and the few things I remember was a big, beautiful kitchen, and a welcoming den where family gathered.
In awe, I stood facing a wall displaying a collage of family photos documenting years of fun times.
I had never seen a representation of an openly expression of love of family. If I wanted to see family photos, I had to look through boxes buried in drawers or a storage closet.
There were the occasional photographs in frames on a side table but for the most part, my mother wanted a more sterilized environment. One she could quickly grab a box and slide her arm across horizontal surfaces and dump junk lying around when the unexpected guest rang the doorbell. This may explain why my walls are filled with kids and grandkids instead of some garden from Monet.
The most memorable of that day was the Soup. Vichyssoise. I had never heard such an elegant term describing a creamy liquid in a bowl. I assumed ingredients were exotic. My repeated praise of this wonderful soup earned me the recipe. I was shocked at the few ingredients and I almost thought, ingredients were left out. I once heard my aunt talk about people who did this for the sole purpose of preventing someone duplicating and taking credit.
Much to my surprise, this simple, inexpensive recipe was exactly as it tasted when first introduced. Now, every time I make Vichyssoise, I fondly remember that day at my friend’s home.
Cold Summer Soups are great for days too hot and muggy to heat up the kitchen. I take time out and toss ingredients together, purée what needs to be and store in the fridge overnight. Dinner is done. Add a simple salad and bread and everybody is happy. Tasty comfort at it’s best.
There are many variations to Gazpacho. Most of all it’s about the tomato juice, hot sauce and fresh, crunchy vegetables giving a tangy flavor of summer goodness.
Then of course, with a hint dill, there is the creamy, All-American, Southern favorite, Cucumber Soup.
Ummm, Ummm, Ummm! One might be tempted to have all three soups in one sitting but slow down and savor one soup at a time…on different days.
Recipe for Vichyssoise: Many years ago my home burned down and the original recipe from my friend’s mother was lost.Vichyssoise is leek and potato soup with cream added. It’s as simple as that. Based on memory from year’s of making this soup, I re-created my version from that of Mrs. Andrews recipe. I add Marsala.
Serves 6 people
Four cups diced, White Potatoes (I leave the skins on)
Four cups diced, leeks
Bring to a boil in about 8 cups of water, add a heaping pinch of salt and allow to simmer about 20 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and leeks and place in a bowl and allow to cool down.
Save the broth for later.
When cool, add the ingredients to a food processor or blender and purée.
Begin adding the broth up to 1/2 cup.
Add 1/2 cup cold cream.
Chill in the refrigerator.
I have found the soup thickens while resting. When ready, pour soup into a large bowl and add more cream or broth from above to liquefy or cream to desired consistency.
At this point you may add a tablespoon or two of Marsala just for additional flavor but the leek and potato soup on its own is delicious.
Garnish with diced parsley.
Gazpacho: My variation is derived from many recipes. Frankly, it changes every time I make it. Some recipes call for puréed vegetables but I personally like something to crunch on.
4 cups (32 oz) jar of tomato juice, I prefer V-8
3 cups chopped tomatoes or one large can Muir Glen Fire Roasted
1 whole peeled, chopped cucumber
1 whole green bell pepper, chopped
two finely chopped green onions (scallions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
one tsp hot sauce or place hot sauce on table for individual serving
Combine all the ingredients and store in the refrigerator over night for best results.
Cucumber Soup: I have had many a cucumber soup doused with dill…I personally prefer a hint to compliment the cucumber…after all, the soup is cucumber.
3 cucumbers, lightly peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups sour cream
1 cup half-n-half
1 green onion (scallion), chopped
juice from half a lemon
2 tsp. minced, fresh dillweed
Combine and purée all ingredients in an electric blender. Chill in refrigerator at least four hours before serving.