Dinner doesn't get much easier than chilled summer fruit soups. Each of these soups comes together in 30 minutes or less, and with a little chilling time they are a rich and satisfying way to beat the summer heat.
Mild yet refreshing, this chilled cucumber soup comes together in about 20 minutes, combining cucumbers with tangy yogurt, a little garlic and bright vinegar. Make it first thing in the morning, then chill until ready to serve for dinner. Garnish with slivered radish and julienned basil right before serving.
For a variation on classic gazpacho, try this white gazpacho with grapes. Nicely thickened with soaked bread and ground almonds, the simple soup is further flavored with a few cloves of garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vineger. Garnish it with green grapes and dinner is served.
Or try a light, refreshing heirloom melon gazpacho from Todd Aarons of Tierra Sur, perfect for this time of the year. While melons from the grocery store will work just fine, Aarons suggests using heirloom melons from the farmers market, such as Sugar Queen, butterscotch or Ogen melons. He also suggests using slightly underripe melons, since you don't want the soup to be too sweet.
You can find all three recipes below.
And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at email@example.com.
CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP
Total time: About 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: From test kitchen director Donna Deane.
2 European cucumbers (about 1 pound each), cut into 2-inch chunks
2 cups plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons slivered radish (1 to 2 radishes), reserved in ice water
Maldon sea salt
4 small basil leaves, cut into julienne strips
1. In a blender, puree the cucumber and yogurt together in batches until smooth. Pour each batch into a large bowl.
2. Stir in the garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. This makes about 6 cups soup.
3. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight until well chilled.
4. To serve, top each serving with slivered radish, a sprinkle of Maldon salt and a few julienne-cut basil leaves.
Each of 6 servings: 76 calories; 5 grams protein; 12 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 5 mg. cholesterol; 351 mg. sodium.
WHITE GAZPACHO WITH GRAPES (Ajo blanco con uvas)
Total time: 25 minutes, plus optional chilling time
Note: This gazpacho is best made with fresh almonds, shelled, blanched and skinned. To blanch and skin almonds: bring a saucepan of water to a full boil. Add the almonds and blanch them for 60 seconds. Drain. While they are still warm, slip the skins off.
6 slices day-old bread, crusts removed (6 ounces)
1 cup blanched and skinned almonds
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water, plus extra for soaking the bread, divided
12 green grapes, seeds removed if there are any
1. Soak the bread in enough water to cover until it is softened. Squeeze out the water and place the bread in a food processor or blender with the almonds and garlic. Pulse until the almonds are finely ground.
2. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow stream, then the vinegar and salt. Blend in some of the 2 cups water, then pour the mixture into a pitcher and add remaining water. This makes about 4 1/2 cups gazpacho.
3. Serve immediately or chill until serving time. Stir before serving. Serve the gazpacho in small bowls with grapes.
Each of 4 servings: 576 calories; 11 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 47 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 1,464 mg. sodium.
TIERRA SUR'S HEIRLOOM MELON GAZPACHO
Total time: 30 minutes, plus chilling time
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from chef Todd Aarons at Tierra Sur in Oxnard.
2 cups cubed French baguette or batard, all crusts removed, and cut into small cubes (about 1 baguette), divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine, Champagne or sherry vinegar
4 cups cubed, peeled and seeded melons (preferably heirloom, such as Sugar Queen, butterscotch, Ogen, Ananas)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra oil for frying the croutons
3 dried bay leaves, ground to a powder
1/2 cup ice cubes, or as needed
Smoked paprika, garnish
1. In a bowl, soak 11/2 cups cubed bread in the vinegar.
2. Meanwhile, using a blender or food processor, puree the melons and red onion. Add the soaked bread and vinegar to the food processor and puree until completely smooth.
3. With the motor running, slowly add the one-fourth cup olive oil, then the ground bay leaves. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt.
4. If the soup is overly thick, add a few ice cubes and puree until the desired consistency is achieved. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar.
5. Transfer the soup to a nonreactive metal bowl and chill before serving. This makes about 4 cups soup.
6. While the soup is chilling, fry the garnish. Pan-fry the remaining cubes of bread in a hot skillet with a little olive oil until evenly toasted and golden-brown. Season to taste with a light sprinkling of salt.
7. Serve the soup, garnished with a few croutons and a sprinkling of paprika.
Each of 6 servings: 145 calories; 2 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 10 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 93 mg. sodium.
ALSO:Easy dinner recipes: Chicken, chicken and more chicken