In the long, hot days of July, we routinely turn to salads and grilled goodies for refreshment, but we should also remember the delights of summer soups.
We asked local chefs to share their creative ideas for making the most out of summer's bounty and other favorite ingredients, and we came away with four wonderful ideas.
Hui Chuan Chiang
Chiang, who sold her namesake sushi restaurant last year, has been developing recipes for a noodle house she hopes to open later this year. She plans to call it NuNu, after her late, lovely daughter's nickname for the restaurant, and Chiang's good friend and mentor, celebrity chef Martin Yan, is giving her friendly guidance. One of the dishes we look forward to finding on the menu is her tiger shrimp, blue crab and lobster ball soup, tinged with fresh ginger and softened with egg noodles. Note that you'll find lobster balls and noodle packets at Asian grocery markets.
Trotti grew up in a small town near Lake Como, Italy, and she has reached into a stash of favorite recipes passed down from her grandmother for this summer soup. Her simple and beguiling frittatine en brodo makes us wish that this was part of our childhood, too.
Café on the Green
Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
Natale gets straight to the heart of what we crave most in summer -- a mixture of favorite hot-weather treasures and cool comfort. In making her watermelon gazpacho, she spins the traditional Spanish staple with pink melon, twisting it up a bit with tart lime and garnishing with smooth, tangy hearts of palm that are quickly grilled for an extra kick. Note: Each heart of palm is about the size of a highlighter pen. If fresh hearts of palm are not available, use canned. If micro cilantro is not available, coarsely chop fresh cilantro leaves.
La Buena Vida
Cook worked in Aspen, Colo., before moving back home to put his culinary degree to use in Texas. He loves creating new dishes for special events at the winery. Here's one of his favorite dishes to make when the mercury soars.
Tiger shrimp, blue crab and lobster ball soup
6 cups of organic chicken broth
4 thin slices fresh ginger root
2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
12 whole shiitake mushrooms
1 package of Japanese mixed fishcakes
(available at Asian markets)
2 tablespoons sea salt
6 pieces lobster balls (available at Asian
14 cups of water (4 for seafood, 10 for
3 tablespoons rice wine
3 whole blue crabs, halved
12 tiger shrimp
3 bunches baby bok choy, halved
6 6-ounce packages of individual fresh
egg noodles (available at Asian markets)
1. Pour 6 cups of organic chicken broth into a stock pot and cook on high until boiling.
2. Reduce heat to medium; add ginger, tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms and simmer for 20 minutes until tomato is soft.
3. Slice fishcakes into 12 slices and add to stock pot along with sea salt and lobster balls, then simmer on medium-low heat.
4. In a smaller pot, heat 4 cups of water on high until boiling.
5. Add rice wine, blue crabs and tiger shrimp. Boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
6. Remove crab and shrimp from smaller pot and discard liquid, then add crab and shrimp to the stock pot with chicken broth.
7. Add baby bok choy, cook for approximately one minute, then remove bok choy and place to side.
8. Remove stock pot from stove; take out the lobster balls, cut them in half and place to side.
9. At the same time, in a separate pot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add 6 individual packages of egg noodles. Cook two minutes and then drain.
10. To assemble, divide noodles among 6 bowls. Pour the soup broth over noodles. To each bowl add 2 half lobster balls, 2 shrimp, halved crab, baby bok choy, 2 shiitake mushrooms and 2 fishcake slices. Serve immediately.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 1,412 calories, 26 grams fat, 225 grams carbohydrates, 81 grams protein, 171 milligrams cholesterol, 2,436 milligrams sodium, 15 grams dietary fiber, 16 percent of calories from fat.
1/2 small watermelon, meat scooped out and set aside
4 cups orange juice
1 cucumber, most seeds removed, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño, seeded
Juice of 3 limes
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
4 hearts of palm (for garnish)
1/4 cup micro cilantro (for garnish)
1. Blend watermelon meat, orange juice, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, garlic, jalapeño and lime juice in a blender until smooth; slowly add olive oil and salt to taste. Chill immediately.
2. To make the garnish, bring salted water to a boil and add whole, fresh hearts of palm, cooking until tender over a low boil (about 5 minutes).
3. Cut each heart of palm in half; grill the flat side over a medium-hot fire for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Pour chilled soup into 8 bowls. Garnish each with 2 hearts of palm halves and a pinch of micro cilantro.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 613 calories, 55 grams fat, 31 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, no cholesterol, 7 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 78 percent of calories from fat.
Frittatine en brodo
4 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups homemade broth (see below)
Flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1. First, make the homemade broth.
2. Combine the eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well.
3. Pour olive oil in a small skillet, covering the bottom, and heat.
4. Pour egg mixture into the pan, just enough to lightly cover the bottom, and cook until the underside is browned, then flip over and cook the other side. Remove from pan.
5. Repeat two or three more times until the egg mixture is gone and you have several little frittate.
6. Cut the little frittate into thin strips, divide them among individual soup bowls and ladle hot broth over them. Sprinkle with the parsley and extra Parmesan and serve.
Homemade broth for soup
1 carrot, peeled
1 onion, peeled
1 celery stalk
1 3-pound chicken
About 1 pound assorted beef and veal bones, optional
1. Place all ingredients in a pan and add enough water to cover by a couple of inches.
2. Bring to a boil then let it simmer for 2 hours.
3. Strain through a metal mesh, then transfer to the refrigerator until the fat has solidified on the surface and you can discard it. Heat the broth when you are ready to serve the soup, and freeze leftover portions for future use.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 148 calories, 8 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 168 milligrams cholesterol, 120 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber, 50 percent of calories from fat.
Chilled cucumber-avocado soup with rock shrimp
1 English cucumber, peeled and
seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and
pitted, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream (plain yogurt
may be substituted)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 sprig mint, leaves finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled
and finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 ounces grapeseed oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Pinch ground clove
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Pinch granulated sugar
8 ounces (approximately 20 to 25)
rock shrimp, diced (regular shrimp
may be substituted if not
1/2 cup English cucumber, seeded and finely
diced into 1/8-inch cubes
4 thin lemon slices
4 dollops sour cream (optional)
1. To make the soup, combine peeled/seeded cucumber, avocado and chopped scallion in a food processor or blender, processing until evenly incorporated and pureed.
2. Add the chicken broth, sour cream, lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper. Continue to blend until mixture is velvety smooth, then remove mixture from food processor or blender and place in mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
3. To make the rock shrimp, sweat the ginger and shallot in grapeseed oil in a large saute pan over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add garlic and clove; continue to sweat, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add champagne vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar and shrimp; cook shrimp for 45 seconds or until they turn just slightly opaque. Immediately remove from pan and place all ingredients in a small container. Refrigerate immediately, and keep chilled for 4 hours prior to serving.
5. To serve, ladle soup mixture into four bowls. Add a handful of the finely diced cucumber garnish on top of soup. Pile a handful of marinated rock shrimp on top of cucumber. Garnish with mint sprig and thin slice of lemon. Sour cream may be used as a garnish as well.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 385 calories, 33 grams fat, 11 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 105 milligrams cholesterol, 184 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 72 percent of calories from fat.