Summer Cooking Ideas: The Soup Is On | Vegan Summer Soup Recipes | Vegan Soupmaking
By Mark W. Reinhardt
After last winter’s “Polar Vortex” everyone I know is grumpy, and asking the question: “When do we get spring? When do we get summer?? What ever happened to good old global warming???” Okay, so that’s three questions, but the answer to all of them is that hot weather is coming—you can pretty much bet on it. (I say “pretty much” because there was one year—1816—when summer never came. You can look it up. But I digress…)
Let’s just assume for a moment that climate change hasn’t totally hosed us, that this year won’t be anything like 1816, and that those stifling days of summer are right around the corner. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be ready for the season with light and tasty foods that will make your family and friends think you fussed over them and went to a lot of trouble. But, of course, you don’t want to go to a lot of trouble.
The purpose of this article, and those to follow, is to give you some new ideas for summertime foods. These ideas will range from tiny variations on familiar foods, to whole new bizarre ideas. There will be lots of hints, a few recipes, and lots of stuff to roll your eyes and shake your head at.
We’re going to start with soups. Not just any soups, but cold soups. Cold soups are not only better for summer, but they have a lot more panache than hot soups. Hot soups are boring. Cold soups are fancy. Cold soups can be served on the “veranda” with real china and silver and a white tablecloth. You can even serve them in little bowls set inside of big bowls filled with ice. Everyone will think you’re Martha Stewart.
But the good news is that you don’t have to be Ms. Stewart to make this stuff. The basic recipe, which is real easy, is this:
- In a soup pot sauté a diced onion and a couple of cloves of garlic in olive oil until tender
- Add whatever chopped seasonal vegetable looks tasty
- Cover with vegetable broth
- Add whatever herbs you like
- Simmer until the vegetables are cooked
- Cool then Blend
- Add soy milk (or whatever milk of choice) to taste
- Chill thoroughly
It couldn’t be simpler, and there’s almost no way it won’t be delicious. Here are a few more tips:
- Take advantage of fresh, in-season vegetables
- If you add a diced potato and cook it with the vegetables it will add additional body and creaminess
- What herbs you choose aren’t hugely important. I like rosemary and thyme together. Oregano, thyme and basil are great if you want an Italian taste. Herb blends like “Herbes de Provence” are always fine. Of course, always choose fresh if possible. Use lots more fresh herbs than dried.
- If you don’t already have one, buy a plunge blender. They make quick work of blended soups, and you can use them for your breakfast shakes in the mornings. Use the blender to achieve desired texture. Some people like their soup very smooth while others like the texture small chunks of vegetables provide.
Want a recipe as an example? Asparagus is great in cold soups, and it just happens to be at its lowest price in years.
Cold Asparagus Soup
- 1 bunch (about a pound) of fresh asparagus with the ends broken off and discarded
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 2 T Extra Virgin (“Just like me!”) Olive Oil
- 1 medium potato (cubed)
- 1 T Better than Bouillon veggie bouillon paste (or use bouillon cubes) in 3 cups of water (or 3 C canned vegetable broth)
- 2 t dried dill (or lots more fresh dill, chopped)
- 1/2 C Soy milk (more if you like your soup very creamy)
- Break up the asparagus, setting aside about 1/2 of the tips. In a medium pot sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender
- Toss in the potato, asparagus,vegetable broth and dill (the veggies should be barely covered by the broth)
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender
- Remove from heat, let cool a bit, andblend. Stir in soy milk and chill thoroughly.
- Serve with fresh ground pepper and with the reserved asparagus tips chopped and floating on top (…a classy little touch, don’t you think?)
You can use this same recipe all summer, varying the vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, corn, carrots, whatever), herbs, and everything else to your heart’s desire.
“Okay,” you say, “that’s all well and good, but I want something more creative; something that everyone will say is the best cold summer soup they’ve had, at least since the non-summer of 1816.
All right, if you insist. Here’s a recipe that I got third-hand off the Internet. (Someone had attributed the original recipe to Paula Deen, but it’s really not her kind of thing.) I’ve made some changes.
Thai Red Curry Soup
- 1 medium sweet onion,
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 28-ounce (or 2 14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 2 14-ounce cans vegetable stock
- 14-ounce can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- Sauté the onion, garlic and cumin seeds in the olive oil until the onion is tender
- Add tomatoes and red curry paste and simmer for 10 minutes
- Add vegetable stock, coconut milk, and brown sugar and simmer for another 10 minutes or more until tomatoes are softened
- Let cool slightly and blend well
- Chill thoroughly, and serve with a wedge of lime and topped with chopped cilantro.Flavors will blend nicely if made a day or two in advance.
Ah spring. Ah summer. Serve some cold soup, some warm bread, and you have a meal. …Unless, of course, you want to make some other warm-weather treats. We’ll look at some of those next time.
Mark is an attorney, author and long-time vegan.
Author: Mark W. Reinhardt
Mark Warren Reinhardt is an attorney and author who has been writing and lecturing on veganism and animal rights issues for longer than anyone can remember. His book, “The Perfectly Contented Meat-Eater’s Guide to Vegetarianism” was published by Continuum in 1998. Mark has previously served on the boards of the Vegetarian Society of Colorado, Rocky Mountain Animal Defense, and Divine Feline, as well as a number of other nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Mark holds degrees in engineering and law from Duke, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. He lives in Denver with his cat Elgie.