Souped Up For Summer

Refreshing Chilled Soups Can Take The Edge Off A Hot Day

July 29, 2009|By Kate McNaboe | Kate McNaboe,katherine.mcnaboe@baltsun.com

With summer's heat and humidity finally making their presence known, a steaming bowl of soup doesn't sound too appetizing.

There's an option, though: Chill out.

"It took a little while for people to get the concept of cold soup," said Kevin Mullaney, co-owner of Soup's On, a small dine-in and carry-out place specializing in soup on Preston Street. "It was just a matter of time and tasting."

Many area establishments are serving chilled soup this summer, and Soup's On is on the bandwagon. It has more than 300 soups listed on its Web site, soupsonbalto.com, and 26 of them are chilled soups. The list of chilled soups, offered only in the summer, ranges from peach and sour cream to watermelon and mint to mango avocado; the most recently popular flavors are chilled cherry with lemon and almond, blueberry with toasted coconut and lime, carrot with fennel and orange, and, of course, gazpacho.

FOR THE RECORD - The recipe for Asparagus Vichyssoise in last week's Taste section omitted an ingredient measurement. The correct recipe appears below.
Asparagus Vichyssoise
Makes: 10 Servings
Nutrition information
Per serving: 179 calories, 8 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 238 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber
1 1/2
pounds asparagus
2
ounces virgin olive oil
1
pound potatoes
4
ounces leek whites
1
ounce yellow onions
6
cups chicken stock
2
cups milk
Salt and paper to taste
For garnish:
Chives
Diced frozen asparagus
Peel, and thinly slice potatoes. Thinly slice onions and leeks. Blend asparagus to a fine paste.
Sweat potatoes, leeks and onions in olive oil until cooked and raw flavor of potatoes is not present. Add chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add milk and simmer for another few minutes - adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Blend to a fine puree and strain. Add asparagus puree and refrigerate. Garnish with chopped chives and diced frozen asparagus.
- Carnival Cruise Lines Executive Chef Peter Leypold

"We use whatever fruits and vegetables are in season," Mullaney said. "We don't use anything canned or powdered; everything's fresh."

Many of the hot flavors, including Swiss chard with goat cheese and spinach with parsley and lemon, can be served cold as well -- such concoctions were celebrity favorites at the L.A. location of Soup's On, Mullaney said.

"I like the fruit soup," said Soup's On regular Russ Kujan. "We make stuff like this at home, so it's great that I can come here and get something homemade and fresh." Kujan is also a big fan of the chilled Indian gazpacho soup, for which Soup's On uses various Indian spices and mustard seeds.

City Cafe on Cathedral Street also offers chilled soups. According to co-owner Bruce Bodie, they change the chilled soup selection every day. Executive chef Chad Gauss' current masterpiece is a chilled corn soup with avocado and chilled shrimp covered in chili powder.

"He definitely tries to take chilled soup to a more interesting level," Bodie said of Gauss, who said he has been getting most of his ideas this summer from the farmer's market.

"I go to the market and see what's best, what's freshest, what I can add to a base and what could be good as a garnish," Gauss said. "Anything can be made into a soup."

In the past, City Cafe has also offered a vichyssoise, a classic French soup with chilled potatoes and leeks, which City Cafe regular Phil Heaphy refers to as "phenomenal" and "like eating ice cream, but not as sweet."

"I've never been a soup person, but the chef there is doing a great job with different chilled soups every day," Heaphy said. "They're pretty compelling, and cool in the summertime."

It proves a bit difficult to get customers to try new kinds of chilled soup, according to Bodie, but once they do, they are pretty receptive.

"Customers like whatever Chad comes up with," Bodie said.

Chilled soups are also popular menu items on cruise ship lines. Carnival Cruise Lines' Executive Chef Peter Leypold offers a chilled soup option at every dinner year-round since the weather's always warm where the ships go, he said. "People like it, and that's why we offer it," Leypold said. "It's different."

On Carnival cruises the most popular cold flavors are gazpacho, mango, strawberry and peach. "You can't find chilled soup everywhere," Leypold said. "It's great for dessert."

Another popular flavor for chilled soup is asparagus, which is offered at two Baltimore locations: The Wine Market on Fort Avenue and Sullivan's Steakhouse on Pratt Street. The Wine Market currently has a chilled asparagus soup with sorrel, Parmesan semi-freddo, smoked chanterelles and mint oil.

"Customers dig into it," said head chef Jason Lear. "We always like doing whimsical things, taking a basic concept and putting a twist on it."

Another chilled creation is the watermelon gazpacho with sherry crab salad, which they mostly save for parties, according to Lear.

Sullivan's Steakhouse, which opened in February, offers a chilled asparagus bisque with crabmeat as part of a summer menu.

"Asparagus combined with cream and crabmeat in the summer is an amazing flavor," said head chef Antonio Garcia. "I like it a lot."

Each of these chefs enjoys experimenting with this new trend. Next, Gauss wants to attempt a new gazpacho with a lemon Popsicle melted into it. Lear will go for a berry and sparkling wine chilled soup, which he says is easy to make, even at home.

"You just puree blueberries and pour in a bottle of sparkling wine and you've got chilled soup," he said.

Chilled Cream of Mango Soup

Yield: Makes: 10 Servings

5 fresh mangoes 1/4 ounce fresh ginger

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup half-and-half

2 cups mango pulp

Fresh mint

Salt and pepper to taste

Sugar to taste if desired

Peel and blend ginger with a little mango pulp to a smooth paste. Strain and reserve liquid.

Peel and cut mangoes into small dices. Combine all dairy together with mango pulp and ginger juice. Blend with stick blender. Refrigerate. Serve in chilled soup cups and garnish with diced mango and mint strips.

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