Cool soups for a hot summer's day

By , Staff Writer of the Christian Science Monitor

It’s hurry-up-and-finish-your-soup-before-it-gets-warm season. Cool.

It’s a snap to make chilled vegetable soups flavored with freshly picked herbs and served in icy bowls as a main course, or dessert soups from fresh local fruit, if you have a blender or food processor. (You do, don’t you?)

The best thing about them: They can be prepared well ahead and kept chilled in the refrigerator. A bowl of cool, refreshing soup, some quality bread with sweet butter, and a tall glass of iced lemonade, and you have a prefect summer meal.

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White Gazpacho

6 ounces blanched almonds

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons salt

5 slices day-old, firm white bread, crusts removed

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

4 cups ice water

Seedless green grapes (about 8 per portion)

Homemade croutons, toasted in olive oil and plenty of garlic

Place almonds, garlic, and salt in a food processor or blender. Process until almonds are very finely ground.

Soak the bread in cold water, then squeeze to extract most of the moisture.

With the motor running, gradually add the bread to the almond mixture. Pour in the oil in a thin stream, then add the vinegar and pepper. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.

Add 1 cup of ice water. Process for a few seconds. Transfer soup to a large bowl and stir in the remaining ice water. Taste; add more salt and vinegar, if desired. Serve the soup well chilled; garnished with the garlic croutons and grapes.

Note: The grapes are not merely a decorative touch, but are an integral part of the flavor and texture of this soup.

Serves 6.

Cantaloupe, Orange, and Mint Soup

1 large cantaloupe (about 2 pounds), seeded, trimmed of rind,

cut into cubes

2 cups orange juice

1/4 cup loosely packed, fresh mint leaves.

2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

A few mint leaves and/or strawberries for garnish (optional)

Place cantaloupe and half the orange juice in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add remaining orange juice, mint, lemon or lime juice, and honey. Blend until mixed.

Chill thoroughly before

serving.

Garnish with mint leaves and/or strawberries.

Makes 4 to 6 cups.

Adapted from 'The Foods & Wines of Spain,' by Penelope Casas

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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