Beat the heat with cool summer meals

By Andrea Karim on 23 June 2007 (Updated 19 August 2007) 1 comment
Photo: Sam

Some summer evenings are simple too hot to contemplate firing up the stove or using the oven. Some nights, even standing in front of the grill flipping burgers sounds like a bit too much warmth for comfort.

For those nights, here are some of my favorite no-cook soups that satisfy without the sweat. These recipes serve 4, so double if feeding a larger group.

Cold Cucumber Dill Soup

The great thing about this recipe is you can pretty much substitute any other fruit/veggie in for the cucumber. Avocados are another popular choice for this soup.

  • 2 English cucumber (chopped into several pieces), or 2 conventional cucumbers (peeled and seeded)
  • 1/4 clove garlic, or a very small garlic clove
  • 8 oz plain whole milk yogurt
  • dill (if fresh, several fronds, if dry, 1 tablespoon)
  • mint (if fresh, several sprigs, if dry 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup chilled gin or vodka (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in blender or food process and puree. Add water as needed until desired consistency is achieved. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with chopped chives or green onion. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

Gazpacho

  • between 5-8 fresh tomatoes (you will have to decide how many are needed based on size - feel free to use a wide variety of tomato types, as heirloom varieties are particularly good for this soup)
  • small can of spicy V-8 juice
  • roasted red bell peppers, chopped (optional)
  • English cucumber, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • green onions or chives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worchester sauce (optional - leave out for vegetarian option)
  • tabasco, to taste
  • pinch dried ground chipotle

My mother likes her gazpacho chunky, whereas I love mine smooth and blended. For chunky, chop all choppable ingredients finely. For smooth soup, add ingredients to blender and puree until smooth. Place all ingredients to a large glass or plastic bowl and mix well added seasonings as needed, then refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Gazpacho is even better the next day. Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche and ground black pepper, and eat with lots of fresh French bread.

Cold Melon Soup

For some reason, one of the cooks in my college cafeteria had a real fondness for cold soup. It was a novelty to me, but once I tried it, I was impressed.

  • chopped, peeled, and seeded ripe honeydew melon or cantaloupe
  • 8 oz yogurt, either plain or flavored
  • lemon juice, to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 oz sparkling white wine (or 3 oz white wine and 3 oz sparkling mineral water)

Put everything but the sparkling wine or soda into a blender and puree until smooth. Chill for at least 1 hour. Add sparkling wine right before serving.

Also: Cracker Sandwiches

Here's a frugal habit that more people need to pick up.

My dad is a really good sandwich maker. This is not to say that he could get a job at a New York deli, for his has no penchant for piling rye high with cold cuts. Rather, he is really good at using whatever leftovers we have in the fridge to make open-face sandwiches that always have the rest of us drooling.

One of the reasons that my mother never had to make casseroles was because Dad pretty much ate all the leftovers for lunch. Dad's Leftover Sandwiches are always a hit, and here are some of the combos that we like the best:

  • chunks of cold salmon
  • fresh chopped dill
  • lemon juice
  • sour cream
  • cracked black pepper
  • capers
  • sliced beef, lamb or pork (cooked but chilled)
  • fresh sliced tomato
  • sliced cheddar or other sharp cheese
  • thinly sliced dill pickles
  • mayo
  • mustard
  • cracked black pepper and salt
  • cold chicken, shredded
  • cream cheese, with a pinch of chipotle mixed in
  • salt, to taste
  • sliced apple
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Ivy

Oh, YUM, that cold melon soup sounds *fabulous*