It seems like it hasn’t been that long ago that I was writing about how cold it was, and I couldn’t go to the mailbox without freezing. My, how the weather has changed. Instead of saying I don’t remember it ever being so cold during my lifetime, I now find myself saying the same thing about the heat.
When it gets this hot, who wants to cook (okay, just a little cooking), so it’s a good time to make some chilled soups from the abundance of tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers growing right now. The Sweet Corn Gazpacho recipe uses a good assortment of garden vegetables and I really love that it uses corn that offers a little texture and sweetness with the acid of the tomatoes.
I’m always trying to find new ways to cook squash and I love the idea of a chilled squash soup. This recipe has a little nutmeg in it, but if you like, you can add a touch of curry instead. Curry vs. nutmeg will take the soup to another dimension altogether.
Dessert is not an afterthought in this heat either. Cool soup desserts are a great end to a picnic in the mountains or seashore, or that big barbecue coming up. So below you’ll find two delicious fruit soups to use as a dessert. Just put the soup in a thermos to keep it cold, or you can put any of the soups in a jar and stick the jar down in an ice chest if you are going away from home.
If you have fresh peaches available right now and you’d like a peach soup, just go to our GardenSMART web site, and in our recipe index there is a cold cantaloupe soup from my friend Kathryn Brown of Camden, South Carolina. You can substitute peaches for the cantaloupe in that recipe. It’s a great soup too.
Also coming up on our GardenSMART website you’ll find cool summer salads. Check it out, because there might be something you can use for the holiday barbecues coming up.
Thanks for cooking with us, and stay cool.
Cold Squash Soup
(Just a little cooking)
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
5 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Sauté onions in butter then add the squash, chicken stock, and sugar and cook until the squash is done. Cool. Puree with an immersion blender or blender and transfer the squash mixture to a bowl or pitcher. Add heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Chill until ready to serve. Add fresh sliced mint for garnish.
Sweet Corn Gazpacho
(From the late Shelia Lukins cookbook, Celebrate)
1 ½ cups fresh sweet corn kernels
1 ½ cups diced ripe tomatoes (1/4-inch dice)
1 ½ cups diced cucumber (1/4-inch dice)
1 ½ cups diced yellow pepper (1/4-inch dice)
2/3 cup diced red onion
2 ½ cups tomato juice (organic from Whole Foods if you have one in your area)
½ cup red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sugar
3 dashes Tabasco sauce or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup slivered basil leaves
1. If you are using fresh corn, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, add the corn and cook for one minute. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Set the colander aside to drain.
2. Place the tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl. Add the tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
3. Transfer half the mixture to a blender or food processor and coarsely puree, pulsing the machine on and off. Return the puree to the bowl and stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings if necessary and stir in the corn kernels. Refrigerate 4-6 hours before serving.*
4. To serve, place about one cup of soup in each of six shallow bowls. Garnish with the basil slivers.
* I have taken a good lesson from Ina Garten on processing vegetables for gazpacho. Ina Garten says to puree each vegetable separately and then add them together. It works! So that’s what I do now instead of mixing all the vegetables to process at the same time. Then I mix them together with the tomato juice and season.
(Serve as an appetizer or dessert)
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup honey
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup sweet white wine
Process all ingredients in container of an electric blender until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides. Cover and chill thoroughly. Stir well before serving. Yield: 3 cups.
1 cup fresh raspberries
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup sour cream
Garnish of fresh lime and raspberries
Process the first 4 ingredients in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. Pour the mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into serving bowls. Or cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish each serving with a thin slice of lime and a raspberry on top.
By Stacey Hirvela, Spring Meadow Nursery
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners/ColorChoice Shrubs
Landscaping is often an exercise in problem solving: we may have an ideal plant in mind, only to find that it won’t thrive in our yards because our site or soil isn’t suitable. Fortunately, plants are wonderfully diverse and adaptable, so you’re guaranteed to find beautiful, landscape-worthy shrubs that withstand most any of Mother Nature’s curveballs. Think of the plants listed below as the landscape equivalent of the old saying, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” — they tolerate and even thrive under the difficult conditions commonly found in backyards everywhere. This means less work for you and a better performance from your plants!
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