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Lady Claire Macdonald: Mix up a classic with these summer soup recipes

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Claire Macdonald​ offers up a pair of wonderful summer soup recipe alternatives.

I write this during the last week of May when, here in Skye anyway, the weather is more like March. Cold, windy, very rainy, and the food which appeals is wintry dishes such as shepherd’s pie – comfort food.

Yet, if we don’t look ahead with hope, that the weather will improve, that surely by the time the longest day – June 21 – comes around we will be baring arms and legs and even be gently tanned.

So, eagerly anticipating the day when we can all sit outside again, here are two recipes for summer-weather soups.

Cold soups should be just that – cold, but not chilled. Beware storing the soup in the fridge until just before serving – chilled soup will have its flavours numbed.

Contrasting garnishes can turn a summer soup into a meal in itself. For instance, the avocado soup is delicious just as it is, but by adding the white crabmeat with its enhancing additions, you have a most delectable and sustaining main course. If you would like to serve it as a first course, beware of being too generous with amounts.

The roasted tomato and red pepper soup is so good and so nutritious too. And the croutes spread with black olive pate are so flavour and texture enhancing.

It is easy to buy really good black olive pate, not only in delis, but also in good supermarkets.

It makes an excellent store cupboard stand-by, as do the boxes of crostini or mini oatcakes or savoury biscuits, which, spread with black olive pate make such a perfect eat with a glass of wine.

A cold soup is so convenient a dish. The best known, of course, is gazpacho, which can be bought from good delis, ready made in tall cartons, easily stored in your fridge. Or it can be bought online.

Try out my summer soup recipes below.


Avocado soup with crabmeat

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, skinned, halved and chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed at either end and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chilli rapeseed oil – if you prefer, use plain rapeseed oil
  • 750 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 ripe avocados, halved, stones flicked out and the flesh chopped
  • 300ml natural yoghurt – I use that made by Rora
  • 1 rounded tsp salt
  • About 15 grinds of black pepper

For the crabmeat:

  • 500g white crabmeat mixed well with
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche – full fat or half fat, whichever you choose
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 1 eating apple, quartered, peeled and cored, and diced very finely
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Method

  1. To make the soup: heat the oil and, over moderate to high heat, fry the chopped onion and celery together, stirring occasionally, for five to eight minutes, or until thoroughly soft and transparent. Don’t let the onion turn colour.
  2. Add the stock and lemon juice to the pan, stir well and bring to simmer, simmer for two minutes. Take the pan off the heat and cool completely.
  3. When cold, add the chopped avocados to the contents of the pan, with the salt and black pepper. Using a hand held blender, whiz to a velvety consistency and stir in the yoghurt.
  4. Taste, add more salt and pepper and lemon juice if you think it is needed. Store in the fridge until required, but be sure to take the container of avocado soup into room temperature half an hour before serving.
  5. Combine the white crabmeat with the creme fraiche, salt, finely diced eating apple and chopped parsley. Store this, too, in the fridge until required.
  6. To serve, ladle or pour avocado soup into each soup plate, and divide the crabmeat evenly, putting a generous spoonful in the centre of each serving of avocado soup.

Roast tomato and red pepper soup with black olive pate croutes

Serves 6

Note: This version differs from my hot winter soup, similar to this.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, skinned, halved and chopped
  • 6 red peppers, trimmed at stalk ends, slit lengthways, deseeded, chopped
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 small new potatoes, halved (ideally Jersey Royals)
  • 4-5 tbsp olive or chilli rapeseed oil
  • 1 rounded tsp salt
  • 15 grinds black pepper
  • 900 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Small handful of basil leaves
  • Small handful of parsley heads, flat or curly

To serve:

  • Bought black olive pate
  • Bought small crisp biscuits or croutes

Method

  1. Line a deep baking tray or roasting tin with baking parchment. Spread the chopped onions and peppers and halved new potatoes onto the parchment lined tin, scatter the halved tomatoes over, and drizzle the oil over the lot.
  2. Sprinkle with the salt and grind black pepper over all. Roast in a hot oven, 180C Fan/200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes. Then mix up the contents of the tin, spread evenly, and continue to roast for a further 20 minutes.
  3. Measure the stock and lemon juice into a saucepan. Once the roasting time is up, add the contents of the tin to the stock in the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer on top of the cooker.
  4. Simmer for two minutes before taking the pan off the heat and cooling. Add the basil and parsley to the cooled contents of the pan.
  5. Using a hand held blender, whiz the contents of the pan until smooth. Taste, adjust the seasonings if you think necessary. Pour into a polythene jug, cover and store in the fridge until half an hour before serving.
  6. Serve by pouring or ladling the soup into the soup plates. Put three to five black olive croutes on each serving.

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