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COOKING

Sipping Summer

A quartet of warm and chilled soups captures the flavors of the lingering season.

By Betty Rosbottom
August 31, 2008
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While Sunday Soup by Amherst author Betty Rosbottom - this week's guest columnist - contains recipes for year-round menus, the four here are perfect for right now. The Shaker chowder is an easy, warm supper for cool nights. The cold curry soup is an antidote to the heat. Zucchini fills out a vichyssoise; avocado lends suaveness to a piquant blend. And despite the title, all the recipes are perfect any day of the week.

SHAKER SUMMER TOMATO, CELERY, AND CORN CHOWDER
SERVES 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
6 cups (4 to 4 1/2 pounds) diced plum tomatoes, seeds and membranes removed
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups (from 5 or 6 ears) corn kernels, cut from cob
Salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, for garnish

In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove 2/3 cup of this mixture and set aside.

Add the garlic to pot and saute, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return to the pot. Set the pot over medium-high heat and stir in the reserved onion-celery mixture and the corn. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt and the cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook until corn is tender and flavors have melded, about 15 minutes.

Stir 1/2 cup of cream into the soup. Adjust seasoning with more salt, if needed. (The soup can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Before serving, reheat over medium heat.) When ready to serve, whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream just until soft peaks form. Ladle soup into 6 bowls and place cream atop each serving, then sprinkle with chopped basil.

ZUCCHINI VICHYSSOISE
SERVES 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups chopped leeks (3 to 4 medium leeks), white and light-green parts only
1 1/4 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

In a large, heavy, deep-sided pot with a lid), heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and potatoes and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until vegetables are soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return to the pot. Whisk in milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and several grinds of pepper. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Adjust seasoning with salt, if needed.

When ready to serve, whisk 1/2 cup of sour cream into the soup. Ladle soup into 6 bowls; garnish with a dollop of the remaining sour cream and the chopped chives.

AVOCADO SOUP WITH FRESH TOMATO SALSA
SERVES 6

SALSA
2 cups diced plum tomatoes (6 to 8, seeds and membranes removed)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper (1 3-inch pepper, seeded)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
Salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

SOUP
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock
6 ripe medium avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced (reserve pits)
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
Salt
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, plus more for garnish

To make salsa: Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, lime juice and zest, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a nonreactive bowl. Toss to mix. To make soup: In a large nonreactive pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the stock, 2 cups of water, avocados, 5 tablespoons lime juice, teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return to the pot. Don't worry if the soup is quite thick at this point. Add reserved avocado pits to soup (to keep the color fresh), then cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. After soup has chilled, you can thin it with cold water, using up to 1 cup (or more) if soup is too thick. Adjust seasoning with more salt and lime juice, if needed. When ready to serve, remove pits. Drain any excess liquid from the salsa and stir in the cilantro. To serve, ladle soup into 6 bowls. Garnish with salsa and a dash of Tabasco.

COLD CURRY CREAM
SERVES 6

4 cups chicken stock
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces cream cheese, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons applesauce
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup apricot jam or preserves
3 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

In a medium-size heavy saucepan, whisk the stock, onions, curry powder, and cornstarch to combine. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Cook, uncovered, until the onions are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese and applesauce.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return to the pot. Strain soup into a large bowl. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least hours or overnight. Add salt and pepper, to taste. To serve, spoon a heaping tablespoon of apricot jam or preserves into each of 6 shallow soup bowls. Ladle soup over jam. Garnish with chopped chives.

Send comments to cooking@globe.com. Recipes adapted from Sunday Soup, by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books, 2008).

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This easy soup starts with a puree of simmered plum tomatoes. (Photo by Jim Scherer, styling by Catrine Kelty) This easy soup starts with a puree of simmered plum tomatoes.
'Soups are foolproof for everybody,' says Betty Rosbottom, author of Sunday Soup . 'If you're a beginner or experienced cook, they are so forgiving.' Baking is all about precise measurements, she says, but soups can be easily fixed with a dash of this or a splash of that. Her personal favorite from the book? A root soup that's simple, cheap, and tasty. "Soups are foolproof for everybody," says Betty Rosbottom, author of Sunday Soup. "If you're a beginner or experienced cook, they are so forgiving." Baking is all about precise measurements, she says, but soups can be easily fixed with a dash of this or a splash of that. Her personal favorite from the book? A root soup that's simple, cheap, and tasty.