Cold Summer Soups

Here in Northern California, we are still waiting for the really hot days of summer to arrive.  But in other parts of the country, I know you’ve experienced your share of those steamy, warm days when it’s tough to think about cooking in a hot kitchen.

However, on a hot day, a bowl of a flavorful cold soup really hits the spot.  Here are a couple of my favorites to try.  Let me what you think!

COLD AVOCADO SOUP
Serves 6 – 8

3 large ripe avocados; peeled, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lime or lemon zest
4 cups or so chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice (crushed in a garlic press)
1 teaspoon minced serrano chile or drops of bottled hot sauce to taste
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro or mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish:  Finely diced, seeded ripe tomato, cucumber and chopped chives, if desired.

Add ingredients to a food processor or blender (in batches if necessary) and puree until smooth.  Thin to desired consistency with additional stock.  Chill for an hour or two to allow flavors to blend and serve in chilled bowls with suggested garnishes.

SPICY COLD PEACH SOUP WITH PEEKYTOE CRAB
Serves 4

The soup base is inspired by the liquados of Mexico and Central America.  These are basically fruit purees often made with the addition of milk and spices and are a refreshing drink on a hot day.  The peekytoe crab story is an interesting one. These are Maine rock or sand crabs which were pretty much a throwaway by-product of lobster fishing before a brilliant marketing move changed their name to “peekytoes” around 1997. They are much prized today for their sweet delicate flavor.  They can’t be shipped live but the fresh picked meat is available during the summer.  Any other crab meat can be substituted.

1-1/2 pounds (3 medium) dead ripe yellow peaches or nectarines, pitted
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup thick Greek style yogurt
1/4 teaspoon chopped chipotle in adobo or to taste
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 small fresh Persian cucumber (3 ounces)
Fine Sea salt
6 ounces fresh peekytoe crab meat carefully picked over to remove any shell
1 tablespoon crème fraiche, if desired

In a blender add the peaches, lime juice, yogurt, chipotle and orange juice and puree.  Strain thru a medium mesh strainer to remove any bits of skin and chill.  Can be made a couple of hours ahead.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

With a mandolin or knife slice the cucumber very thinly lengthwise and lightly salt.  Ladle the soup into flat soup plates.  Mix the crab and crème fraiche together if using and mound in the center.  Artfully arrange the cucumber around and serve immediately. Can be made a few hours ahead.

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