Spicy Mango Bisque with Scent Leaf
A chilled soup is my dinner party savior. Anyone who has ever hosted a couple dozen people in a small apartment knows that some courses can’t require 12 components, three hours of prep time, or an optimal serving temperature. When I’m hosting guests, a soup like this helps me keep my sanity, or at least lets me get a few sips of wine in between courses!Since March of last year I’ve been hosting a dinner series with the intention of helping people connect with my native Nigerian cuisine through the recipes from my childhood spent there. I’ve had the ambitious, if not exactly practical goal of trying to cram the harried chaos of Lagos—Nigeria’s most populous city—onto a plate. This cool mango soup was inspired by the frenzied crawl, the hurry-up-and-wait pace of driving into Lagos from the west, and when I first served it I named it “Lagos-Badagry Expressway.”I took a road trip with my family to Badagry, a city a few hours outside Lagos (it often takes 2 to 3 hours in traffic just to get out of Lagos, so we’ll just say a few). The expressway’s unimaginative name fails to capture the wild exuberance of the road itself, as teeming with life as a bazaar. Buses spill out their riders without coming to a complete stop, pedestrians stride along the dusty strip between eastbound and westbound traffic, and cars cross over that same strip to use any lane they can to pass—even joining the traffic going the other direction! Small markets line the road. Food sellers hawk their wares alongside the “go-slow.” And there is plenty of go-slow.When I was visiting, it was during mango season. Mango trees lined the road, and all of those standstills lent me plenty of time to stare out at the branches heavy with ripe fruit, dreaming up recipes. So here it is—a burst of tart sweetness, and then a slow enveloping of herbs. Like the traffic coming into Lagos.The cold, smooth emulsion of mango and coconut milk is the vehicle that highlights the scent leaf—“efirin” in Yoruba—a magical leaf that embodies the essence of cinnamon, mint, and basil. (Thai basil has a similar, if not exact aroma and is a good stand-in here.) The soup ends with a note of habanero oil, a tingle just barely hitting the back of your palate. Frozen mango cubes are great for smoothies; just don’t use them here. Any fresh and lusciously ripe mangoes will do—they don’t have to be harvested from the roadside in Lagos to be delicious.
Tomato Water Gazpacho
At Vicia in St. Louis, Best New Chef Michael Gallina closes the loop in his cooking. This refreshing gazpacho highlights Gallina’s zero-waste approach: The base of it is built on the tomato seeds and pulp, plus the brine of pickled green tomatoes, from an elegant amuse-bouche of Tomato and Watermelon Bites. The total time for this recipe includes straining the gazpacho in the refrigerator overnight, which yields a clear but deeply flavorful broth.
Salmorejo is a classic soup made primarily with tomatoes and bread. It’s best with a splash of sherry vinegar, but Andalusian tomatoes pack a good hit of acidity, so they often omit it in Spain. It’s also frequently made with pan de telera, a type of hard roll, which thickens the soup, but anything from a ciabatta to a rustic white loaf is good here. Slideshow: More Cold Soup Recipes
Chilled Avocado Soup with Crab
At their San Antonio restaurant, Mixtli, F&W Best New Chefs 2017 Rico Torres and Diego Galicia serve this zesty, creamy cold soup as a refreshing beginning course to their Michoacán tasting menu. That region is the largest and most important avocado producer in Mexico, so this dish is a fitting start to the meal. The chilled soup, which is topped with fiery, crisp serranos and sweet crab, is a nice alternative to a classic tomato gazpacho. Slideshow: More Avocado Recipes
Mint and Pea Soup
For me, soup is not just a winter dish – I love to eat it all year round, and I particularly enjoy cold soup during the summer, even when the weather is less than summery. Mint gives this soup a wonderfully fresh taste, and it makes a perfect lunch with some bread and cheese on the side. Perry, the estate manager at Great Dixter, once accused me of being lazy for adding whole peas, pods and all, to the pot, but I feel they give the soup more body and intensify the flavour. For the best result, remember to chill the soup thoroughly. If I am making it for a crowd, I will put a large bowl of it in a sinkful of iced water. Note that this soup does not freeze well. —Aaron BertelsenAdapted from The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes from an English Garden by Aaron Bertelsen (Phaidon, $39.95 US/$49.95 CAN, March 2017) Slideshow: More Cold Soup Recipes