A cool alternative to hot soup

By Sandy Oliver Special to the News, Special to the BDN
Posted July 27, 2010, at 4:41 p.m.

Several cool ideas for hot weather eating arrived in the mail after my query last week.

Ruth Thurston in Machias wrote that in summer she likes to make tabouli, (a mixture of bulgur and parsley with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, frequently seasoned with mint); gazpacho (cold tomato-based soup with cucumbers, peppers, celery and carrots); and cold borscht (beet soup). I make tabouli when I have a ton of parsley, being under the impression that it is mostly a parsley salad with bulgur in it. Bulgur is cracked, boiled wheat grains. I like gazpacho too, and this time of year keep a bottle of tomato juice on hand to get it off to a head start. Borscht, hot or cold, meets a tepid response around our house, but you beet lovers would like it.

Ruth sent along her favorite pasta salad recipe that we will try out here very soon.

Pat Southard in Howland wrote in two recipes, one for coleslaw with apples and raisins, which sounded like a very good idea. She also sent along Cold Potato Leek Soup. That one really tugged at the old heartstrings.

Good old vichyssoise, which is its sophisticated name when it is served cold. I haven’t had it for years, and the last time I made it I felt so chic. This is one of those nice old dishes that in some quarters has slipped out of view replaced by more trendy fare. For me it evokes visions of martinis and cream soup bowls, formal dining rooms and people dressed for dinner. It is a comfort food, if cold, but not cold comfort.

So I made it. Needless to say, we did not dress for dinner and we ate it around our kitchen table. Maybe next time we will attempt a bit more formality.

I halved Pat’s recipe because there are only two of us, though the recipe that follows is the full one. I used two of my leeks straight from the garden, the only two large enough to be sacrificed this early in the season. If you lack leeks, use onions, and call it Potato Onion Soup. Shallots, onions, especially mild ones like those large white ones you can find, plus a generous bunch of scallions would work, too. You can, according to one Julia Child, increase the proportion of leeks to equal the potatoes.

If I had leftover mashed potatoes, I might be inclined to use them instead of cooking potatoes. Pat recommends using baking potatoes such as russets.

I used half cream and milk at the end. You could use all cream or all milk.

Looking for … haddock casserole. Sharon Dorsey from Bangor wrote recalling a haddock casserole I mentioned a few weeks back. I tasted one at a potluck supper but didn’t ask for the recipe. Sharon would like the recipe so now I wish I had asked for it. She likes to have haddock once a week and it sounds to me like she would welcome a new way to fix it. Anyone?

Cold Potato Leek Soup

Yields 8-10 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 cups half-inch cubed potatoes (about three medium-large)

2 cups leeks sliced a quarter of an inch thick (three large leeks)

1¾ cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium onions)

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk or cream

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

parsley or chives for garnish

In a large kettle or Dutch oven, heat the oil and add potatoes, leeks, and onions and cook over a medium heat until the potatoes begin to be tender. Add the chicken broth and simmer all together for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Take off the heat and mash the potatoes with a masher until you have your preferred consistency. Add the milk or cream, sour cream, and thyme. Stir to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings. Allow to cool at least two hours before serving. You can make this a day in advance and keep it refrigerated. It will have more flavor if you bring it to room temperature before serving.

Looking for … haddock casserole. Sharon Dorsey from Bangor wrote recalling a haddock casserole I mentioned a few weeks back. I tasted one at a potluck supper but didn’t ask for the recipe. Sharon would like the recipe so now I wish I had asked for it. She likes to have haddock once a week and it sounds to me like she would welcome a new way to fix it. Anyone?

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/07/27/living/a-cool-alternative-to-hot-soup/ printed on December 27, 2014