Join Me in the Kitchen: Gazpacho and Melon Soup

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Vicki McGraw
Vicki McGraw, Jamestown Gazette Contributing Writer

Well, Kid’s College has come and gone for another year, and we had a wonderful week! I was blessed to have twenty two terrific kids and a very helpful assistant in my class, and we had a ball trying to be the next “Cake Boss” together. We made everything from Monster Cupcakes and Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes to giant Hamburger Cakes. We also had spent time working with fondant icing, the latest fad in cake decorating! We made good friends, good food, and great memories!

So far this year, we have been having a summer for the record books…I don’t ever remember a hotter, more humid July, and now August looks to continue in the same trend. It has been amazing weather for outdoor activities, although a little too warm for strenuous activities and way too warm to heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven! This is a perfect time of year to enjoy cold foods, and one of my favorites is cold soup! At first thought, many may say a quick and resounding “YUCK,” but with an open mind and adventurous taste buds, I think I can make you change your mind!

Cold soups are just what their name implies…cold (or sometimes room temperature). Now I’m not talking cold chicken noodle or cream of mushroom, here. No leftovers invited to this party! Cold soups are prepared specifically to be served cold. One of the more commonly known is the Spanish treat Gazpacho (a wonderfully refreshing tomato based creation). I think this is a perfect start to a summer luncheon. I also enjoy serving cold melon soups. These can be either sweet or savory, and can be served as a starter course, or as a dessert course. As with most food, presentation is an important part of the enjoyment. Serving cold soups from a crystal punch bowl, into fancy bowls or even wine goblets will add to the novelty!

Cold soups are usually very easy to make; the most handy tool to use in making them is a blender or food processor, as usually at least part of the ingredients are pureed, (thus making the soup, soupy!). I also like to make my soups (whether cold or hot) the day before I plan to serve them so that the flavors have time to “mingle.” As with many other foods, flavors in soup will change (either intensify or mellow) a bit as they rest. By allowing this resting time, you also are able to readjust the seasonings if you need to before serving. Remember…you can always add a little more, but you can’t take it out once it is in, so start with a light hand!

Finally, as I always do, I encourage you to be adventurous! You truly may like something new, even if it sounds a little scary or even gross! Like I told my students at Kid’s College, you never knew you liked your favorite food until you put it in your mouth the very first time! So if you are on the edge, go ahead and take the plunge! You may discover your new favorite food…or at least be able to honestly say you don’t like it, because you did try it!

Gazpacho

  • 3 cucumbers, seeds removed and cut into 1” chunks
  • 4 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 cup tomato juice (or V-8)
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 1 T parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Dash of hot sauce (to taste)

In small batches, puree cucumbers, tomatoes, pepper and onion in blender or food processor. Leave final batch of mixture a little chunky for added texture. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill for at least

four hours. Serve cold.

Cold Melon Soup

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe
  • 1 ripe honeydew
  • 2 ripe peaches
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • Dash of nutmeg

Peel and remove seeds from melons, peel and remove pits from peaches. Cut fruits into cubes and puree in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill for at least 4 hours. Serve cold, garnished with a sprig of fresh mint!

(The more ripe your fruit is, the better it will puree!)