What do you need for a well stocked pantry? If you could only have 10 foods on your desert island, what would you chose? Which five kitchen tools are absolutely essential? Whoa- lists of lists? It's a form of entertainment. And where, as here, no one has to follow the rules, it can't hurt, except insofar as wasted time can be construed as damage.
It won't be me doing the construing. As far as I'm concerned, time pleasantly wasted is time well spent. If you wish to join me in this diversion, I invite you to add to these rules, or vote against them, via comment. This is what the rules are about today:
Many people are averse to the consumption of hot soup in hot weather. I eat soup all year round, and find that hot soup, like hot tea, can, in fact, be cooling. Nonetheless, when a summer soup is going to be the meal, there may be a dilemma. Because though hot soup can be refreshing in the heat of August, few fancy a weighty goulash, a crusty french onion gratinee, or chicken and dumplings.
On the other hand, unless you are a fragile Victorian female laced so tightly into your corset that you can barely lift your head from the fainting couch, a delicate clear boullion does not make a meal. Hence- my rules (deduced after much trial and error) for making a hot summer soup that while not too heavy, makes a satisfying supper. (These rules do not apply to cold soups, which are another, uh... kettle of fish.) The soup in the photo is an example that does the trick for me. I'll tell you what's in this one, but the general idea is that the rules make a sort of master recipe, from which you can assemble your own mix:
1. Use a very rich, preferably home made broth for your base. For the most part, creamy soups, if not chilled, are less summery. If you think your broth is a bit weak, cook it down. (This is a good reason for barely salting your broth when you make it.) A reduced broth, with a bit of a gelatinous quality is invigorating without being heavy. It can feel as if it is going right to your finger tips. Which is why we give it to sick people, I suppose.
2. Use a variety of seasonal vegetables, sliced fairly thinly. Some good ones are carrots, yellow and orange; summer squash (not too much, as they can be soggy); edame; snap peas; mushrooms, scallions; asparagus. Just before serving, toss in a handful of leafy greens to wilt. The vegetables should be cooked until soft, but not mushy. It is nice, though , of course unnecessary, to go for pretty shapes.
3.Pick one or two fresh herbs, and make the soup really aromatic: Use some when you are heating the broth, save some more, finely chopped or chiffonade to toss in just before serving.
4. Add a dumpling, noodles, and/or thin slices of meat, fish or poultry- but avoid chunkiness. Good choices include shrimp sliced in half lengthwise (they curl attractively as they cook), ramen or bean thread type noodles, and especially, little asian-style dumplings. These are easy to make with prepared wonton or dumpling wrappers, which are lovely and thin and slippery when cooked. You can make these in about 10 minutes, freeze them on parchment-lined cookie sheets, and bag them for future soup and other uses. Here is one excellent recipe. If you are feeling lazy, you can buy some very nice ready made frozen ones.
5.Just before serving, along with the herbs and leafy greens, add a bit of fresh lime juice, lemon juice, or rice wine vinegar to brighten up the flavors. I like some freshly ground pepper there too.
And that is all.
The pictured variation is a rich turkey broth, cooked up and simmered with a chunk of ginger and smashed lemongrass, fresh cilantro, and Thai basil. Veggies are carrots, squash, scallions, edame, and baby spinach. There are a few split shrimps and some broken ramen noodles (just a bit), as well as the shrimp dumplings in the linked recipe. It was finished with chopped Thai basil and cilantro and some rice wine vinegar. But that's just one example.