Jul 19, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Soups


In our lesson this week at Haven’s Kitchen Summer School, Sonjia Hyon explores how to layer flavors in chilled soups.  

 

I love cold soups. My husband often snubs his nose and calls it a “savory smoothie.” But what’s wrong with that? In general, he thinks cold things should be sweet, with the exception of pickles. I couldn’t get him to eat a salad the first 5 years of our relationship.

I grew up in a Korean family that enjoyed eating cold, savory soupy noodles in the summertime. (Koreans also eat a hot chicken stew, but more on that another time.) We looked forward to the humidity because it meant that it was naengmyeon season.

 

cantaloupe_gazpacho_700

 

I can understand why people are confused by cold soups. Soups evoke fall and winter, and are designed to be warming and nourishing. They are the down comforter of food. Chilled soups, on the other hand, are cooling and cleansing, which doesn’t exactly evoke comfort. But who wants comfort in the summer? We want to be light and free, find that twitch of excitement in our souls. We might want to be comfortable from the heat, but comfort is not the emotional state of summer.

At Haven’s Kitchen, the day after Memorial Day commences cold brew and chilled soup season in our cafe. In our classes, we teach our students how to make cold soups because they are a simple means to make a meal without turning on the oven.

In The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, we want readers to learn the importance of layering flavor through making soup. At first glance, this concept doesn’t seem to apply to cold soups. How does one layer flavor when you’re not using heat?

For hot soups, you start by sweating the aromatics. These aromatics are regional. The classic French mirepoix is usually onions, carrots and celery. In Southeast Asia, it might be lemongrass, ginger and shallots. When layering flavors with cold soups, the intention is the same, but the method is different. As we’ve discussed last week, we have a short time to appreciate and admire the flavor and texture of a tomato or a cantaloupe. In this sense, layering is also about complementing. For summer soups, the method we use to create complexity is with acids like vinegar or citrus, fresh herbs and chilies, to embolden the soup’s base ingredient whether it be cucumber, tomato, or melon.

 

ajoblanco_mise_700Ingredients for Ajo Blanco: grilled bread, garlic confit, sherry vinegar, Marcona almonds, and Persian cucumbers.

 

For tomato gazpacho, we also add corn and cucumber to add crunch, sweetness and neutrality to balance the acid of the tomato and to add texture. Depending on your style, you can modulate the texture of a tomato gazpacho. I prefer it a little more chunky whereas some people prefer it to be velvety smooth. To get this, I prefer to use a hand blender. However, the key for a smoother texture is a high-powered blender like a Vitamix and a good shot of olive oil when you’re blending. It will emulsify the soup creating a no-cream creamy feel. This is useful especially for the Ajo Blanco.

 

tomato_handblending_700

 

Finally, add garnishes. They offer texture and another layer of flavor, but also provide a pretty signal to your guests and to yourself for what’s in the soup. For the Ajo Blanco, we put sliced fresh grapes at the bottom, and put roasted grapes on top. Or, you can opt for a cucumber brunoise and some sliced almonds.

 

garnish_ajoblanco_grapes_almonds_700

 

Making cold soups is your opportunity to be playful and something you shouldn’t have to fuss over, even if it’s on the menu for that summer dinner party you’ve been dreaming up. Starting your guests off with a piquant gazpacho on a warm summer night will be their cue to relax, be light, and take in the “comforts” that summer has to offer.


Recipes

Ajo Blanco, reprinted in Camille Styles

 

CHILLED SOUP GRID

BASE

ACID

FLAVOR

GARNISH

Cantaloupe

Fresh Lime Juice

Serrano Chilies,
Salt

Sandita Pickles,
Lime Zest,
Olive Oil

Tomatoes,
Cucumbers,
Red Peppers

Red Wine Vinegar

Thyme,
Garlic

Croutons,
Fresh Basil

Cucumber

Sherry Vinegar

Garlic Confit,
Almonds,
Grilled Bread

Roasted &
Fresh Grapes,
Almonds,
Cucumber

 

Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

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