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Indulge in the Cold

August 10, 2006 By:
Louise Fiszer, JE Feature
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For Jewish immigrants, soups were an integral part of cuisine; in times of poverty, it proved a cheap and sustaining way to feed a family. A leftover bone, wilted vegetables discounted at day's end, a few hunks of yesterday's bread and some beans wound up producing a tasty, satisfying, nutritious and warming dinner in a bowl, especially in cold weather.

Summer soups depends a bit more on bright, fresh ingredients, like beets, emerald-green spinach and sorrel, as well as ripe fruit for refreshingly chilled warm-weather fare. These soups were meant to cool and revive the palate after a hot day of labor.

Today, cold soups, sweet and savory, remain quite popular, both as starters or main courses. They incorporate some very traditional ingredients with a contemporary twist.

I even like to serve the fruit-based, sweet chilled soups as a dessert, topped with ice-cream or crème fraîche.

'Schav'
1 lb. sorrel, coarsely chopped (if you can't find sorrel, substitute baby spinach, and add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice to it)
6 scallions, trimmed and chopped
8 cups water
1 egg, beaten
11/2 cups sour cream
salt and pepper
1 lb. small, red new potatoes, scrubbed, cooked and diced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

In a large saucepan, simmer the sorrel and scallions in water about 20 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Whisk about 1 cup soup into egg until well-blended. Whisk egg mixture back into soup. Remove to a bowl and chill.

Stir in the sour cream until well-blended; taste for salt and pepper.

Add the potatoes and cucumber, and serve.

Serves 6.

Chilled Herb and Potato Soup

(Vischysoisse)

2 Tbsps. butter or vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh chervil
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cooked
1/2 cup watercress leaves
salt and pepper
mixed chopped herbs for garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add shallots, chives, parsley, chervil, tarragon, dill, and lemon zest. Cook about 2 minutes.

Add stock, bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.

In blender or food processor, purée herb mixture with milk, potatoes and watercress. Chill.

Just before serving, taste for salt and pepper garnish with chopped herbs.

Serves 6.

Plum-Cinnamon Soup
2 lbs. plums, quartered and pitted
3 Tbsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
grated zest of 1/2 an orange
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 cups fresh orange juice
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2-1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine the plums, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests with just enough water to cover.

Simmer, partly covered, until plums break down, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

In blender or food processor, purée plum mixture with orange juice, lemon juice, half the almonds, and one-half to 1 cup water. Chill.

Serve sprinkled with remaining almonds.

Serves 4 to 6.

Golden Borscht

4 medium golden beets, peeled and grated
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
6 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
salt and pepper
fresh dill
1 lb. small potatoes, boiled

In a large saucepan combine beets, carrots, pepper and onions.

Add enough cold water to cover vegetables by two inches.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 1 hour.

Stir in lemon juice and sugar. Cook another 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve cold, over potatoes and sprinkled with dill.

Serves 6 to 8.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.

 

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