Here Is a Cold Soup, This Is Not Gazpacho
It’s that magical time of year again, folks: no school, the ice cream truck is back, and temperatures are back up to what could be best described as ” dangerous ” and “tough.” What a time to be alive.
Right now I’m starting to google furiously things like ” no bake desserts “, ” coldest shower possible ” and “gazpacho but good.” As much as I love all the individual ingredients in gazpacho, I just can’t settle for a large bowl of soup with salsa chunks, which is the disappointing end of most recipes. Here’s the thing: Not only can you make gazpacho silky smooth , but the world of chilled summer soups doesn’t start or end with the ubiquitous tomato-based blend.
Most cuisines that come from hot, sticky climates have at least one chilled soup, and while specific tastes vary greatly, these dishes usually share three things in common. First, they tend to be completely loaded with summer foods and herbs, so they are a great way to use up excess vegetables before they go bad. Second, they tend to be meat-free because large chunks of cold, moist, cooked meat aren’t all that appetizing. Finally, and most importantly, chilled soups get better the longer they sit. Once you find one you like, place a huge batch of this in your refrigerator and enjoy your meal unprepared and unheated whenever the mood rises.
Whatever your preference, there is a cold soup for you. If you like noodles, then Korean naengmyeon is for you ; Garlic lovers will immediately relate to the Andalusian Ajoblanco or Bulgarian tarator . I am a lover of fatty sour milk products and fresh dill, so it is not surprising that my favorite summer soups are of Russian or Eastern European origin. A stunningly beautiful, hot purple fridge great for borscht lovers (which I love very much), but its slightly domesticated cousin okroshka won my heart forever.
Okroshka is essentially just a bunch of vegetables, cut into small cubes, floating in salted buttermilk with herbs, but this description does not justify itself. Like many great dishes, it is a symphony of contrasting elements: it is both savory and refreshing, light and super satisfying, herbal and spicy, and rich enough to feel like a treat. If you’re feeling open-minded – or just tired of gazpacho – this is just your ticket to the scorching hot weather.
Okroshka (Russian summer soup made from vegetables and herbs )
Potatoes, cucumbers, and radishes are traditional dishes, but you can use any vegetables you like as long as they are properly cooked and cooled (or salted and dried). Just don’t skip herbs that are absolutely essential; If you don’t like celery leaves and dill, use a combination of parsley, garlic, cilantro, fresh thyme, mint, basil, or any other fine-textured herb that you like. Finally, I think buttermilk soup really works, but if you don’t have one, diluted plain yogurt (fatty, please) or sour cream will do as a last resort. It will be an appetizer for eight or a main course for four.
- ¾ lb (340 g) reddish brown potatoes (one large or two small / medium potatoes)
- 1-2 tablespoons white vinegar
- ¾ lb (340 g) seedless thin-skinned cucumber (one large English cucumber is sufficient)
- 2-3 cups ice cubes
- ½ lb (225 grams) radish (five to six medium)
- 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of celery leaves and dill)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 large lemon
- Salt and pepper for flavor
- Hard-boiled eggs, for serving (optional)
Peel the potatoes (or potatoes) first and cut into cubes about an inch in diameter. Place in a saucepan of cold, well-salted water and add one or two tablespoons of white vinegar. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until cooked but crumbled. Drain and cool.
While the potatoes are cooking, peel the cucumber and cut into ¼ inch cubes. Place in a colander over a large bowl and season with about a teaspoon of table salt; throw to combine. Cover the pickles with ice cubes and drain for at least an hour.
When the cooked potatoes have cooled completely and the cucumbers have dripped for an hour, cut the radishes into ¼ inch cubes, chop the greens and chop the onions. Remove the ice cubes from the cucumbers and transfer to a separate container, leaving the drained cucumber juice.
Pour the buttermilk into the bowl that just contained the cucumber juice, then season to taste with the cucumber juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper. (You want the base to be pretty salty and sour, so fear not.) Add herbs, green onions, potatoes, cucumber and radishes and stir to combine.
It tastes good right away, but it gets even better after an hour in the fridge. Either way, serve with a garnish of chopped herbs and freshly ground pepper; if you like them, then the traditional accompaniment is hard boiled eggs. I served mine along with a very controversial sandwich: homemade bread and mayonnaise, chopped gherkins , serrano jamon , American cheese, and yellow mustard. It was delicious.