LIFE & CULTURE NO-COOK DINNERS KEEP SUMMER KITCHEN COOL
On occasion, grammar’s not the point. A friend used to say, about a given summer, “It’s a blister.” Hereabouts, this one certainly is that. So, Get Cooking has five Wednesdays to be with you this August, and each will be about cool food. Not “with it” food: cold comestibles, no-kitchen-heat nosh. Chill.
This recipe is for white gazpacho, a bleached twist on the usual standard that features tomatoes and red peppers, plus some hints for healthy hacks for all soups cold.
The most important cooking tip for preparing un-hot soups is about salt. When any food is cool or cold, the sensation of salt is dulled. Many cold soups start out life as hot or even just room temperature food: sautéed vegetables, say, or ingredients assembled then puréed. Don’t salt these; salt at the end, after the refrigerator or addition of ice has chilled the soup.
More heart-healthy hacks:
• Use processed juices, especially tomato juice, sparingly if at all; they often contain much salt, plus tomato juice sports flavors of cooked, not fresh, tomato.
• Bake or dry-roast croutons from old bread, herbs and ground pepper. Fried-in-oil croutons are tasty, but also laden with fat.
• Don’t substitute vegetable for olive oil; the latter has flavor, more than what’s usually necessary in a cold soup. Just use less of it if you’re on the lookout for fat.
• Sub out Greek-style yogurt (or cashew cream) for sour cream or crème fraiche.
• Avocados will introduce creaminess; fruits such as pear, watermelon and many other melons will bring on the sweetness.
• Crumbled bread often thickens cold soups. A healthier sub may be ground-up nuts (such as almonds, walnuts or cashews). Chopped nuts also can replace croutons.
• Amp up flavor by roasting vegetables ahead of time, cooling them, then proceeding.