Using the Bounty–Soups of Summer

This is the time of year every gardener wonders what to do with all the vegetables piling up outside the kitchen door. Make soup! All these soups are wonderful hot or cold, and any extra freezes well.

Beet Borscht with Spices from the Silk Road


A mixture of red and gold beets is extra beautiful and delicious.

Warm 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (or other vegetable oil) in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté 1 large onion (quartered and thinly sliced), 2 diced carrots, 1 thinly sliced celery stalk, and 2 bay leaves until the onion is softened, 5 or 6 minutes. Stir in 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp ground cumin seed, 1 tsp smoked paprika or Aleppo pepper, 1 tsp ground coriander seed and 1 tsp salt. Cook 1 minute. Add 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Add 1 to 1 1/2 pound beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups), 2 medium new potatoes, cut in 3/4-inch cubes, and 1/2 head thinly sliced cabbage  (about 3 cups). Cover the pot and simmer 45 minutes.

Add 1 cup chopped beet greens and 1 cup diced tomato (fresh or canned). Add more broth or water if the soup is too thick. Simmer 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 1 Tbs cider vinegar, and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or vinegar to taste.

Serve with sour cream or yogurt sauce and finely chopped green onions.

Yogurt Sauce

Mix together 1 cup whole milk yogurt, 1 garlic clove mashed to a paste with 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp ground cumin seed, 2 tsp fresh lime juice, 1 tsp lime zest, and 2 Tbs chopped dill or mint.

 Summer Squash Soup with Curry Spices and Cilantro-Mint Pesto


I love summer squashes in all their many shapes and colors–they are spectacular in the garden. This year I am growing a beautiful patty pan type called “Sun Burst”, as well as “Italian Striped” and “Salman”zucchini. This soup will be pale yellow or pale green, depending on the type of squash available.

Warm 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tbs butter over medium heat in a large pot. Stir in 1 large chopped white onion. Sauté until the onion is softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 1 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger, and 1 seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper; stir 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 lbs (about 2 quarts chopped) summer squash and stir to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp kosher or sea salt.

Add the spices: toast 1 tsp cumin seed and 1 tsp coriander seed on an iron skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking the pan or stirring constantly. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp turmeric, a very small pinch of cardamom, and 1/4 tsp cayenne. Stir the spices into the vegetables.

Add 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender. Remove from the heat. When cooled slightly, puree the soup in a blender. Adjust the seasonings by adding a bit of curry powder or a spoonful of tomato paste or salsa. Blend in 1 cup whole milk yogurt and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Return the soup to the pot and stir in 1 to 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice. Gently reheat before serving, or cool and serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with chopped chives and cilantro leaves and swirl in some Cilantro-Mint Pesto.

Cilantro-Mint Pesto 

Use a food processor or blender to puree 1 1/2 cups cilantro stems and leaves, 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, 1/2 cup mint leaves, 2 large garlic cloves, 1 Tbs minced ginger, 1 jalapeno pepper, 2-3 Tbs fresh lemon or lime juice, 1 tsp zest, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or peanut or sesame oil) and salt to taste. Add water to thin, if needed. Optional: 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, pumpkin seeds, or cashews

Smoky Gazpacho


A cooked gazpacho…or is it a borsht? This Gazpacho is chunky and hearty, made smoky by grilled vegetables and a chicken broth made from the flavorful remains of garlic-herb grilled chicken.

Make the chicken broth by simmering the carcasses of two grilled chickens in a crock-pot overnight. Strain the broth and refrigerate. When cool, remove the fat from the surface. I freeze the broth in ice cube trays; the frozen broth cools the soup when it goes in the blender with the vegetables.

Vegetables for Gazpacho: 2 or 3 red bell peppers, 2 pounds red-ripe tomatoes, 3 small red onions, 2 or 3 small zucchini, 1 or 2 jalapeno or other medium-hot chiles, 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, 1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, tarragon, thyme…)

Heat a gas or charcoal grill while you prepare the vegetables. Chop the herbs; seed and chop the hot chiles. Mash the garlic to a paste with 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Combine the garlic paste with 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice; set aside. Seed and cut the peppers into quarters; halve the onions lengthwise; cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Toss these vegetables with olive oil to coat well; sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Grill the tomatoes whole, until the skin is blistered and beginning to char all over–5 or 6 minutes. Grill the cut vegetables about 5 minutes on each side, until they are soft and slightly charred.

Put the peeled tomatoes, peppers, onion, zucchini, hot peppers, chopped herbs, and garlic-lemon mixture in a blender or food processor. Pulse to make a chunky salsa-like mixture. Add water, or chicken or vegetable broth to thin to the consistency you like. Add a little salsa or chile sauce for more zip. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, more lemon juice, balsamic, or red wine vinegar. Chill the soup , if desired.

Serve sprinkled with more fresh herbs. Pass bowls of diced cucumber and finely chopped onion, and hot garlic croutons.


One thought on “Using the Bounty–Soups of Summer

  1. We’re having visitors from Alaska tomorrow and I think that borscht is just the thing to make use of the garden goodies that are plentiful at the moment. I like the combination of spices in the recipe. Thank you.

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