Soupalooza: Warming up to cold soups
Cold fruit soup, I have to admit, doesn't do much for me. If I want a smoothie, I can happily slurp my sugary cold sweetness through a straw. Who wants to politely sip something that resembles a Slurpee with a spoon?
And therein lies the problem with cold fruit soups. Are they dessert or an entree? How sweet should they be? When do you serve them? What actually is the difference between a cold fruit soup and a smoothie?
In any case, I have managed to dodge the issue, despite my Norwegian heritage, by simply not making cold fruit soup. (My grandmother used to make something with cherries, cinnamon, rice and whipped cream. Not joking here!)
Like I said I mostly avoided fruit soup, until this week, that is. I stumbled on a recipe from Food Network chef Tyler Florence that intrigued me because it didn't sound too sweet. A day later, a friend sent a nearly identical recipe that also intrigued me. Both contained honeydew melon, cucumbers, hot peppers, onions and citrus. There are a few variations in the ingredients, but the major difference between the two soups is that one is left chopped -- as in gazpacho -- and the other is blended.
So, when you come across two similar recipes in 24 hours, it seems fate is intervening. Cold fruit soup, it is!
Tyler Florence's version, which he names "Cold Summer Soup," also uses a Serrano chile, fresh mint, cilantro and rice wine vinegar and you serve it chopped like a salsa with a dollop of low-fat plain yogurt mixed with lemon juice and a little olive oil.
The version my friend sent me -- termed Green Gazpacho -- uses jalapeno pepper, white balsamic vinegar and lime juice and is blended. I decided to add avocado and made a few other tweaks. (The titles are a tad misleading because, in my world, the chopped one should be called gazpacho and the blended one should be the "cold summer soup," but no one asked me.)
However, the Daily Herald's intrepid and creative food editor, tasted both versions and decided to mix them together. Genius!
So feel free to use creative license here. There's no reason you can't blend either of them or serve either of them chopped. Also, most of the extra ingredients seem pretty interchangeable as long as you have cucumbers, honeydew melon and some sort of onion and chile pepper in the mix. However you mix and match them, give it a try and you might be a convert to cold fruit soup.
Be still my grandmother's heart.
• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation, and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at soupalooza.com.