Cold soup. A lot of people dislike the idea, but I honestly think it’s because they’ve never given it a chance: cold soups are the best thing for summer! To date, this is my favorite cold soup. While I find it super weird calling gazpacho something that doesn’t have tomatoes in it, that’s how Chef John called it!
Is it the easiest recipe ever? No, not even close. But it’s worth it. Seven years ago, when I moved to Uruguay, I didn’t know how to cook the most basic of the foods – my repertoire consisted of pasta with store-bought sauce, tuna salad, and basic chocolate cake! Now I can cook a sophisticated-tasting cold soup. I can’t help but feel proud!
For 4 portions, you’ll need:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup leeks, washed and chopped – chop, then measure. Use only the white part, or else your soup will be green! Save the green part for vegetable stock
2 English cucumbers, peeled
10 seedless green grapes – I just cut regular grapes and removed the seeds
¼ cup chopped blanched almonds – you can also use slivered almonds
1/3 cup sour cream or plain yoghurt
1 generous cup of bread cubes
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt, pepper, and cayenne
1 ½ cup cold water – you may need more
Did you know you can blanche almonds at home? I learned that for this recipe, as I tried, but couldn’t buy blanched almonds! Soak them in boiling water for one minute. Drain the boiling water and soak the almonds in cold water for another minute. Drain again and place the almonds over a dry dishcloth. Rub the almonds using the dishcloth and see how easy that skin comes off! Chop the almonds, measure ¼ cup and set aside.
In a small pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook the leeks in médium heat for 10-15 minutes, until it softens. Set aside and let it cool completely. Peel the cucumbers and chop them into medium-sized pieces. Set aside.
When the leeks are cooled, it’s time to blend. Place the cucumber, leeks, grapes, almonds, sour cream, bread, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, water, and dill in the blender. Blend well and, if necessary, add a bit more water. Try not to add too much, we want a thicker soup.
When the mixture is wel blended comes the boring part: passing the soup through a fine strainer! The idea is to remove the little chuncks/skin/whatever, so don’t skip it!
As the trick is to serve this soup VEEEERY cold, fill an ice cube mold with the soup and freeze it. Cover the rest of the soup and place it in the fridge for about three hours.
When the soup is nice and cold, taste for seasoning: I had to add more pepper and cayenne. To serve, place a couple frozen soup cubes in a bowl and cover with the cold soup. Add a few drops of olive oil, sliced grapes and slivered almonds and you have a delicious (and fancy) soup!
Looking for a recipe to end the Soup Tertulias, I found one that I had pinned long ago. As it was from Chef John, it was sure to be good, right? So there I went to the grocery store to buy an ingredient I hardly ever use – leeks. There’s no special reason for not using them much, other than pure lack of habit!
But given that I don’t usually cook with leeks, I never have great expectations for the results. So you can imagine my shock when I realized how good this soup was! It was simply the best soup I’ve ever made – and one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten! It immediately gained comfort food status! ❤
To make this soup, you’ll need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
150 g bacon – Chef John used prosciutto, and a lot less than that, but we don’t do “just a little bit of bacon” around here. To veganize this recipe, he suggests using shiitake instead of bacon!
6 leeks – without the leaves
1.5 liters of beef stock – I used the homemade version, concentrated. To veganize the recipe, use homemade veggie stock − or the store bought one…
4 medium-sized potatoes
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
250 mL heavy cream – to veganize, use soy/rice cream
Chop the leeks into medium-sized bits and rinse them well to remove any little specks of dirt, which is really something we don’t want to taste in our soup…
Heat the olive oil in a thick pot and fry the bacon. When the bacon is halfway cooked, place the leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and let them soak in water, so they don’t turn brown. After the 30 minutes, add the potatoes to the pot and cook until they are soft – if you think you need more liquid, just add water!
When the potatoes are soft, use the blender (I used the immersion blender) to … blend the soup! Put the soup back in the pot, add the cream and heat it until it starts to boil. Serve immediately, thinking “omg did I just cook that? I’m so amazing, I should be on Masterchef, etc.” 😀 😀 😀
FREEZER: Like most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I just used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.
Salt cod is a big deal in my family. We eat it for Christmas, Easter, special occasions, not-so-special occasions… Here in Uruguay, we can only find it around Easter. The worst thing is that it’s almost impossible to find nice thick pieces! Although it’s a bit of a pain to deal with thin salt cod, I buy it whenever I see it – did you say salt cod cakes? Bacalhoada? Basically anything with salt cod?
Looking for a different way of preparing it, I found this recipe on Receitas de Minuto. It was great – a much lighter way of eating salt cod!
For a 9-inch quiche, you’ll need:
1 cup flour
80 g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
½ cup chopped onions or leeks
10 olives, give it or take
200 g salt cod, de-salted and shredded
1 cup heavy cream
Pepper, nutmeg, and paprika
Start by making the dough, which is basically the same as in the cheese empada. In a bowl, place the flour, salt, and butter. Mix the ingredients using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, crushing the chunks of butter until the texture resembles wet sand. Add the yolk and shape the dough into a ball. If you live in a dry area, you may need to add a couple Tbsp of water to be able to bring the dough together.
Roll the dough over a 9-inch round pan, pressing well on the bottom and sides of the pan. With a fork, unleash your inner murderer and prick the entire crust. Bake on a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.
While the crust cools, prepare the filling: in pan that fits all the ingredients for the filling, sautée the leeks/onions and olives with a bit of olive oil until they soften a bit. Add the shredded salt cod and season with pepper, nutmeg, and paprika. Taste for salt – you usually don’t have to add any!
Remove the pan from the stove, mix in the heavy cream, and let it cool a bit before adding the eggs – you want a quiche, not scrambled eggs! 😀
After mixing in the eggs, pour the filling over the crust and bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the filling is set and golden-brown. Wait a few minutes before slicing the quiche and serve with a nice green salad!