Cold soups are favorites of mine because they capture the essential flavors of the ingredients, are simple to prepare, and, because they require minimal cooking, healthy vitamins and anti oxidants are preserved.
- 1 large head of broccoli, soaked in cold water and divided into 3 or 4 large segments
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 medium onion or leek, chopped
- 1 medium stalk of celery, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin or 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- approximately 4 Cups water
- lemon juice of mild white wine vinegar to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add 1/4 cup of salt (the water should taste salty). Add the broccoli and cook for approximately 5 minutes until a thin knife can penetrate the stalk with medium resistance – do not overcook. Drain the broccoli in a colander and run it under cold water to prevent further cooking.
- Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the carrots, garlic, onion, celery, cumin and a light sprinkle of salt. Adding salt now draws liquid from the vegetables, helping prevent them from browning. Cook, stirring until the vegetables have softened, add the tomato paste and cayenne and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add a cup of water to the sauté pan, heat to boiling and then pour the water and sautéed vegetables into the pot used for the broccoli. Add the remaining water, bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and let the vegetables simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the broccoli to the water to warm it.
- Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender (hold the cover of the blender on with a towel to prevent the hot liquid from escaping when the blender is turned on).
- Place the pureed soup into a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Slightly over-salt the soup because when it is cold the flavor of the salt is muted. Add the lemon juice or vinegar in increments, stirring and tasting with each addition until the flavors become slightly sharper and brighter. Add more water, if needed, to thin the soup.
- Chill the soup (at least 2 hours or overnight) and serve in chilled bowls with a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil.
Perfect fresh local vegetables are now becoming available at farm stands and farmers markets, so skip the produce section of the supermarket and buy your fruits and vegetables locally. Bring the kids along - they love meeting the farmers and learning where their food comes from. Let them help choose whatever is best in the market, and make this quick recipe with them. It’s a great way to get them eating healthy fresh vegetables and to teach them to buy locally.
Broccoli is now in season, and recent reports reveal it to be one of the healthiest of vegetables. It has a poor reputation because many of our mothers overcooked it, making it strong smelling and bitter, but, cooked properly, it has a pleasant cabbage-like flavor which lends itself to many preparations. When the first of this year’s broccoli appeared at a local farm farm stand, we bought a large head which I decided to make into soup. The temperature was in the nineties, so a cold version was in order.
Cold soups are favorites of mine because they capture the essential flavors of the ingredients, are simple to prepare, and, because they require minimal cooking, healthy vitamins and anti oxidants are preserved. They make a refreshing light lunch or first course and can be prepared so that they contain few calories, making them flavorful additions to any diet.
I make many cold vegetable soups and have found that using water as the liquid accentuates the elemental flavors of the ingredients, while stock or broth lessens their intensity. These recipes all start with sauteing aromatic vegetables in oil or butter, and briefly boiling the water with the sautéed vegetables ensures that the soup will not lack fresh flavor.
The broccoli is boiled in heavily salted water until it just begins to soften, pureed in a food processor with the sautéed vegetables and water, and then thinned with additional water if necessary. Use a blender if a smoother soup is preferred, while the processor version has more texture. Many recipes call for addition of a small volume of heavy cream to add richness, but I like to let the tastes of the fresh vegetables stand on their own. Acidity brightens and freshens flavors, and the trick of adding a few squeezes of lemon juice or a tablespoon of mild white wine vinegar can make a surprising difference in cold soups.
Shown here with Parmesan Garlic Bread which pairs perfectly with this superb vegetable soup.
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