Soup recipes: this summer's liquid assets

Date:22-06-2013 07:58:04 read:4

Soup recipes: this summer's liquid assets

To be their best, soups need the freshest, ripest ingredients. Then let the simplicity and coherence shine through.

Bowl me over: gazpacho is the king of summer soups Photo: Rii Schroer
< >
  • Recipe


  • Recipe

    Zuppa di zucchine

  • Recipe

    Pappa al pomodoro

  • Recipe

    Sorrel soup

Soup is woefully underestimated. I have to work really hard to get people to order it at my restaurant. I think the assumption is that it’ll either be too heavy or too light; or possibly that it won’t offer the variety of tastes and textures that a plate with three or four discrete things on it will – and you’ve got to admit there may be some truth in that.

But maybe this simplicity and coherence is what is so great about soup. I can think of nothing more perfect for a dinner party at this time of year than a bowl of chilled soup (or room temperature, if the summer weather proves to be less than summery) to start. It doesn’t demand to be cut up or forked about, so it won’t disturb the flow of your guests’ conversation.

There are plenty of benefits for the cook, too. A cold soup can be prepared in advance (indeed, I often find it improves after 24 hours in the fridge); it is easy to scale up the quantities as required; and you can just put it to one side until you’re ready to eat. No heating, no fuss.

You will find with my recipes below that they do not involve loads of ingredients or need ages boiling away on the hob. Summer soups are all about brief cooking and lightness of touch; the key to cooking in the summer is to allow the wonderful, ripe ingredients to take centre stage. To this end, it’s important that you try to get the finest of everything. You really need the vegetables to be flavoursome and in peak condition: the ripest, most fragrant tomatoes and firm, vividly coloured courgettes.

Pappa al pomodoro is my go-to summer dish. Something magical happens when tomato and bread meet, and for me, this dish harnesses that magic. It is a typical dish of Tuscany, where the cucina povera of the area often involves stale bread and thick soups that you can eat with a fork. It is a great way to use up a glut of tomatoes or an excess of bread. Its texture is probably the best bit: tomatoes, bread and oil make for a silky bowlful of deliciousness that is brilliant for the very young (or the very old with not many teeth!).

I have tried many different ways of making courgette soup, but I keep on coming back to this one that I first came across at the River Café. The herbs and the touch of cream somehow bring out the subtle, nutty flavours of the courgettes – just make sure you find lovely fresh ones. If you have any left over, this soup is wonderful stirred through pasta.

Gazpacho has to be the king of summer soups. Nothing is more refreshing, or indeed more healthy, than blended raw vegetables. They need very little to make their flavours jump out of the bowl beyond a little salt, oil and vinegar. Again, try to buy the best of everything – you’ll really taste the difference between a pepper ripened in Holland and one ripened in Spain. I like to keep a jug of this in the fridge during the summer for whenever anyone needs a quick meal or snack.

The flavours of sorrel work beautifully in soup. It is not the most versatile of leaves as its acidity means that it doesn’t necessarily get on well with many other ingredients. Potato and cream, however, are the exception: they manage to tone down the sharpness of sorrel, but not at the cost of its character.

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013