Monday, August 3, 2009

Cold Soups for Summer

1991: Moroccan Tomato Soup
I am inclined to try any recipe that has Morocco in the title. This was no exception. The result was well worth the effort. But faulty instructions in the original made the task more arduous than necessary. (A food mill with a large disk is no help whatsoever in removing tomato seeds; they go right through. Plus my tomatoes were reluctant to join the seeds in the bowl. So I found another approach—the Cuisinart.) I have worked out the instructions, at least to my own satisfaction, and now I’m ready to pass this delicious soup along to you. It is best made with good tomatoes, if it can ever stop raining or get warmer or get cooler. Take your pick depending on where you are in the country.

5 medium clove garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
2½ teaspoons sweet paprika or sweet smoky paprika
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
Large pinch of cayenne
4 teaspoons olive oil
2¼ pounds tomatoes, skinned* and cored
¼ cup packed chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt and more to taste
4 stalks celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons water, if needed

1. In a small saucepan, stir together the garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne and olive oil. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until the garlic is soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Place the skinned tomatoes, pulling them apart a bit with your hands, in a food processor and whirl until smooth. Drain through a large sieve into a good-sized bowl to remove as many of the seeds as possible. Stir the liquid in the sieve with a rubber spatula until it is as dry as possible and you’ve extracted as much of the tomato goodness as you can, leaving the seeds behind. Occasionally wipe the back of the sieve with your spatula to release more of the tomato goodness.
3. Stir in the cooked spice mixture, cilantro, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, salt, celery and water, if necessary. Add more salt as desired.
4. Refrigerate until cold. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.

*Skinning your tomatoes: I bring a medium pot of water to boil and one by one drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 10-12 seconds depending on their ripeness. I scoop the tomato out of the water, turn it stem side down, make a slit in the skin and peel the skin away. When I’ve finished the peeling, I cut out the cores.

4-6 servings depending on the size of the bowls
Adapted from Amanda Hesser’s article in The Sunday New York Times Magazine, July 2009; Barbara Kafka wrote the original article for The Times in 1991.

Yogurt and Cucumber Soup

I wish my photos for these soups were a little more appetizing. The photos don't do the soups justice. Sorry about that.

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (can also use the seedless kind)
4 cups plain whole or low-fat yogurt
¼ cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup water, more if your yogurt is very thick
salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup golden raisins, chopped if necessary
3 tablespoons dried rose petals, optional but so nice
Note: You can get these from a Middle Eastern store in your area. Zand’s on Solano in Albany is good for Bay Area folks.
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 pita bread, cut into ½ inch squares and toasted

1. Combine the cucumber, yogurt, scallions, mint, dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon, garlic, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with 1 cup water and adjust the seasonings to taste.
2. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
3. Just before serving, add the walnuts and golden raisins. Pour into individual serving bowls and sprinkle with rose petals, fresh mint, and toasted pita squares.

6 servings as a first course
Adapted from Najmieh Batmanglij in The New York Times Food Section

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