Summer soups

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

In the wilting summer heat, when many people like to cook quickly and eat light, a chilled summer soup can be almost as refreshing as a plunge in the pool. The basic proposition -- from the earliest cold fruit soups, dating back more than 1,000 years, to today -- hasn't changed much:

You want something cold and something fruity -- or, at the very least, zesty. That's probably what made cold soups popular on the Continent, and why immigrants brought their recipes to the New World.

Some of those early fruit soups included vegetables to give them more substance, or they could be made even more filling by the addition of sweet dumplings.

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Many of the mixtures were extremely imaginative, using whole fruit, pur'eed fruit, attractive combinations of Concord grapes and melon balls, cherries, beets, oranges, and carrots.

The following recipes offer some rather unusual combinations of fruits, berries, and fruits and vegetables. These flavorful soups can be served in a variety of ways -- as light summer snacks, appetizers, or cooling desserts. Gingery Carrot-Orange Soup 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine 1/3 cup chopped green onion 3 cups sliced carrots 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper 2 cups water 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice 1/2 cup whipping cream 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice Orange slices (garnish) Carrots julienne (garnish)

Melt butter in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add green onion and saut'e until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in carrots, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon and saut'e 3 more minutes.

Blend in flour, salt, and pepper and toss until carrots are coated with flour. Cook 1 minute. Add water and orange juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.

Transfer mixture to processor or blender in batches and pur'ee until smooth. Pour into large bowl. Stir in whipping cream and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with orange slices and julienned carrots.

Serves 4. Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1-inch slices, (about 3 1/2 cups) 1 1/4 cups orange juice, about 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup chopped orange sections

Reserve 4 strawberry slices to use as garnish.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat remaining strawberry slices, rhubarb, and orange juice to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in sugar to taste. Cool.

In covered blender container at low speed, blend strawberry mixture, one-half at a time, until smooth. (Or put mixture through a food mill.)

Fold in chopped orange sections. Refrigerate, covered, until well chilled. To serve, garnish soup with reserved strawberry slices. Serves 4. Chilled Apple-Leek Soup 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 cup finely chopped leeks, white part only 3 large peeled, cored apples, chopped 2 teaspoons curry powder 3 cups buttermilk Fresh parsley (garnish)

Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan. Add leeks, apples, and curry powder. Saut'e lightly for approximately 4 minutes. Remove from stove and cool. Add buttermilk and stir well. Pur'ee in batches to smooth texture in blender. Chill for 1 hour and garnish with parsley. Serves 4. Peachy Apricot Soup 1 16-ounce can apricot halves with syrup 1 16-ounce can peach halves or slices with syrup 1 cup fruit juice, (apricot, orange, apple, or cranberry) 1 cup sour cream or yogurt Sour cream or yogurt as garnish, (optional) Sliced dried apricots (optional)

Pur'ee canned apricots and peaches in a blender. Add fruit juice and sour cream or yogurt and mix well. Chill. Serve with dried apricot slices and a dollop of sour cream or yogurt on top. Makes 6 cups.

If desired, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of any of the following: allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Curried Chicken Soup 2 10 3/4-ounce cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted 2 cups milk or light cream 2 tablespoons water 4 teaspoons curry powder (or more to taste) 3/4 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons) Lemon slices (garnish) Salt to taste

Place first 4 ingredients into blender container. Cover and blend at high speed for 1 minute. Chill for several hours.

At the last possible minute before serving, stir lemon juice into the soup.

Serve very cold garnished with thin slices of lemon.

Serves 4. Southern Gazpacho 3 medium-size avocados 1 cup chopped cucumber 1 cup chopped green pepper 2 tomatoes, chopped 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 clove garlic, mashed 1/2 teaspoon liquid hot pepper sauce 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 2 tablespons lime juice 1 quart tomato juice

Peel and cube avocados.

In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir to blend. Chill. Makes 2 quarts. Cold Shrimp Soup 1 pound cooked shrimp, finely chopped 1 tomato, peeled and finely chopped 1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped 2 cups canned chicken broth 2 cups sour cream 2 tablespoons fresh dill (or chives), finely chopped (garnish)

Mix together all ingredients except garnish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill. Serve garnished with fresh dill or chives. Serves 4.

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